Tobacco Manufacturers Milk Indonesia for Smokers
Indonesia is the tobacco industry’s cash cow, and Phillip Morris International, (PMI), is in court fighting The National Commission on Child Protection for the right to continue ruthless advertising.
PMI owned Sampoerna called on the government to give testimony in court on April 21st, threatening millions of unemployed if they have to stop advertising on television and radio.
In a letter to the South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance, (SEATCA), on 4 February this year, PMI said it supported the improvement of tobacco regulations in Indonesia and the shared objective of reducing youth smoking in Indonesia.
In the courtroom however, together with its representatives PMI has countered evidence that advertising and promotions encourage children to smoke.
The South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance, (SEATCA), “is gravely concerned that countries in the ASEAN region are still a fat cash cow for the world’s largest transnational tobacco companies”.
“PMI has a ruthless disregard for life. It continues to vigorously fight tobacco control efforts in developing countries. More profits for Philip Morris means more deaths for us in Asia,” said SEATCA Senior Policy Advisor, Dr Mary Assunta.
Indonesia is lagging behind the rest of the world in enforcing tobacco control measures, it is the only country in the region not to have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC), which includes 164 other countries around the world.
The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
Indonesia is PMI’s fourth largest cigarette market and has no legislation to protect and inhibit aggressive promotions and advertising aimed at children.
90% of Indonesian children report having seen advertisements for cigarettes on television alone.
Indonesia has 46% of all smokers in the ASEAN region, and 78% started before they were 19 years old.
Tobacco companies are therefore highly vested in communicating to teenagers.
“As PMI celebrates its increasing profits, Indonesia’s youth do not stand a chance to protect themselves from a lifetime of addiction, disease and death,” said SEATCA.
They call on PMI and all tobacco companies in Indonesian to stop presenting one face to the public and another in the courtroom, to accept the evidence and halt all advertising, sponsorship and promotional activities.
“For Indonesia the smoking epidemic is a tragedy of colossal proportions as about 200,000 Indonesians die every year from smoking related diseases and there are now about 60 million smokers, half of whom will die prematurely in the coming years. An even bigger tragedy is that the tobacco industry’s plan for Indonesia is to increase smoking and tobacco sales in the coming years.”
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Dr Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor for the South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance
Phillip Morris International
South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance
World Health Organisation