Jan. 21 2009
Washington, D.C. — For the second time in less than a year, Indonesian public health leaders and public health leaders from around the world are calling on Philip Morris International to withdraw its sponsorship of a major music concert that appeals to Indonesian youth. Today these public health leaders have urged Philip Morris International to withdraw its sponsorship from the Marlboro Rock in Orchestra concert series, including the upcoming January 24 concert in Semarang. The concert series — which has featured a variety of music groups including the hugely popular Slank — is being sponsored and heavily advertised by Philip Morris International and its Indonesian subsidiary Sampoerna.
The January 24 concert is the most recent of several recent instances of Philip Morris marketing cigarettes through concert sponsorships. Promotional materials for the concerts feature cigarette branding and advertising. In July 2008, Philip Morris International was forced to withdraw sponsorship of a concert in Jakarta by U.S. singing star Alicia Keys. Public health experts around the world agree that tobacco brand sponsorships of concerts make cigarettes and other tobacco products more appealing to youth.
In the United States, Philip Morris USA and other tobacco companies are prohibited from engaging in cigarette brand sponsorships of concerts under a 1998 legal settlement. However, in Indonesia and other developing countries, Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians, which health experts have condemned as a means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising.
International and Indonesian tobacco control experts are calling on Philip Morris to withdraw its sponsorship both of the January 24 concert and all future music events. The organizations demanding withdrawal of the sponsorship include the National Commission for Child Protection of Indonesia and the U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which provides assistance to organizations around the world working to reduce tobacco use and the death and disease it causes.
A letter to Philip Morris International President Louis C. Camilleri from Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, states, "We call on you to adopt the same policy worldwide that is in place in the United States — no sponsorship of music events. In the view of public health experts worldwide, brand name sponsorship of music events makes tobacco products more appealing to young people. All children everywhere should be protected from forms of tobacco marketing that no longer are allowed or accepted in wealthy nations."
The World Health Organization's international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, requires ratifying nations to ban all tobacco advertising promotions and sponsorships. To date, 161 countries have ratified the treaty.
Currently, about 35 percent of the Indonesian population smokes, and tobacco use kills more than 200,000 Indonesians each year. An estimated 78 percent of Indonesian smokers started before the age of 19.