Commission Seeks Ban on Tobacco Ads

The National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak) has urged the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission to halt the airing of tobacco ads on World No Tobacco Day this Sunday.

Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of Komnas Anak, said on Thursday that the ads were aimed at encouraging underage teens to smoke.

“Our children are the most vulnerable people to these types of ads,” Arist said. “We want the KPI [broadcasting commission] to show its commitment to protect the youth by banning these commercials, especially on [Sunday].”

The KPI failed to respond to Kompas Anak’s statement when it was contacted for comment.

Muhammad Joni, chief of the legal division of Komnas Anak, said he has initiated a judicial review on the Broadcasting Law of 2002, which includes an article on abolishing cigarettes online buy.

Meanwhile, Muhammad said cigarette companies had sponsored some 1,350 youth-oriented events from January to October in 2007, a message that could be interpreted by children as being a green light to take up the habit.

“Given that children are susceptible in these types of events, there is a tendency for them to be loyal not only to the event itself, but to the products that support it,” Muhammad said. “If that happens, children unwittingly begin to develop a smoking habit.”

Zaky, who represents the Tobacco Free Children Forum (FABT), said that children needed to be protected from exposure to tobacco ads.

“Children are constantly under attack from cigarette ads,” Zaky said “That’s why we call on every responsible member of our society, especially parents, to protect them because we know we cannot win this battle without their help.”

Some of those present at the FABT related their experiences while attending events sponsored by tobacco companies.

Chusnul said organizers of one music event would invite people to join in games or special segments, but only if they bought the products being sold by the cigarette companies.

According to a global youth tobacco survey conducted by the World Health Organization in 2006, 14.4 percent of Indonesian students between the age of 13 and 15 years old smoked cigarettes.

Separate research in 2007 found that 41.5 percent of Indonesian students started to smoke because they claim to have been influenced by cigarette ads.

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