Anti-smok­ing groups slam ‘veiled pro­mo­tions’

New Straits Times - - World -

JAKARTA: Anti-smok­ing groups in In­done­sia have slammed Big To­bacco for pro­mot­ing sales by giv­ing re­tail­ers cash re­wards, shop­ping vouch­ers and even money to ren­o­vate, urg­ing au­thor­i­ties to en­force advertising curbs to safe­guard pub­lic health.

The coun­try with one of the high­est smok­ing rates in the world does have a na­tional reg­u­la­tion in place to re­strict ci­garette ad­ver­tise­ments, in­clud­ing a ban on to­bacco firms pro­mot­ing their prod­ucts while act­ing as a spon­sor. But it is in­con­sis­tently en­forced by re­gional au­thor­i­ties.

Ci­garette mak­ers make the most of this, ty­ing up with small re­tail­ers and re­ward­ing them for in-store pro­mo­tion of prod­ucts, the anti-smok­ing groups say.

By mid-last year, Philip Mor­riscon­trolled PT Han­jaya Man­dala Sam­po­erna Tbk, PT Gudang Garam Tbk and Djarum Group had part­nered with 513 shopown­ers in four cities here, a study by the In­done­sian Pub­lic Health As­so­ci­a­tion (Iakmi) showed.

Ci­garette com­pa­nies have stepped up “veiled pro­mo­tions” fol­low­ing a move by the Jakarta gov­er­nor two years ago to ban all ci­garette advertising on out­door me­dia, Iakmi said.

A shop-owner in Tangerang, west of Jakarta, said as a Sam­po­erna part­ner, he had to fol­low the com­pany’s dis­play re­quire­ments for its prod­ucts and is not al­lowed to sell other ci­garette brands.

In re­turn, Sam­po­erna had given him free ci­garette packs, shop­ping vouch­ers, ban­ners and even a mil­lion ru­piah (RM320) to paint his shop.

Ci­garette ad­ver­tise­ments are of­ten found at small shops near schools, mak­ing chil­dren ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble, said Lisda Sun­dari, head of the Lan­terns for Chil­dren Foun­da­tion.

A shock­ing video of a tod­dler puff­ing up to 40 cig­a­rettes a day in Su­ma­tra went vi­ral seven years ago, fir­ing up anti-to­bacco ac­tivists who said it un­der­scored the prob­lem of un­der­age smok­ing in In­done­sia.

In­done­sia’s ci­garette mar­ket was the sec­ond-big­gest in the world af­ter China, with 316.1 bil­lion sticks sold last year. Reuters

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