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Tobacco Company Ads On National Health Day In Indonesia

By Expert Author: Bernard Fowler

The famous Indonesian tobacco company Djarum on the country’s National Health Day placed a big advertisment on the front page of a national newspaper showing one of its cigarettes brands. The paper appeared on every seat at the launch event for the Ministry of Health’s National Health Day event.

That is the way things are in Indonesia and tobacco companies are free to do what they want, sell and advertise their tobacco products. The newspapers avoid their responsibility to readers by running those ads. Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia that did not ratify the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and its laws on tobacco ads are among the weakest in the world.

The Jakarta Post says that the cigarette newspaper advertising comes at a time when the Ministry of Health is pushing the Indonesian government to ratify the FCTC, which requires a full ban on tobacco ads, promotion and sponsorship.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi told The Jakarta Post said that the newspaper advertisment demonstrates how aggressive cigarette companies can be, as they will benefit of any opportunity to promote their tobacco products.

A new health law regulation comes into action in December that prohibits front-page ads like this, although many other kinds of promotion of tobacco products will still be legal.

This episode demonstrates why Indonesia needs to introduce tobacco control laws. Given the chance, tobacco companies pull stunts like this – while spending millions every day to market their deadly products to kids. As long as Indonesia’s laws are weak, tobacco companies will continue to thumb their noses at efforts to improve health and save lives.

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