International Health Groups, Fans Urge Kelly Clarkson to Drop Tobacco Sponsorship Of Upcoming Indonesia Concert

Apr. 20 2010

Washington, D.C. — International public health advocates are calling on U.S. singing star and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson to withdraw tobacco industry sponsorship of her April 29 concert in Jakarta, Indonesia. Health advocates expressed alarm that the concert and associated advertising are being used to promote cigarettes to Indonesian youth.

Clarkson has not responded to letters and online fan requests urging her to withdraw tobacco industry sponsorship of the concert. The Indonesian National Commission on Child Protection, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and the U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have all urged Clarkson to withdraw tobacco sponsorship of the concert.

The concert is being sponsored and heavily promoted by the tobacco company PT Djarum under the name of its cigarette brand LA Lights. Television, billboard and online ads for the concert feature Clarkson's image and the LA Lights logo and even carry health warnings, making clear they are cigarette ads.

"If Kelly Clarkson goes ahead with this concert, she is choosing to be a spokesperson for the tobacco industry and helping them to market cigarettes to children," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "If she rejects tobacco industry sponsorship, she can send a powerful message to children in Indonesia and around the world that they, too, should reject the tobacco industry's deadly products and marketing."

The tobacco industry has long used sponsorship of music concerts popular with young people to promote its products and tobacco use among youth. In the United States, a new federal law bans tobacco companies from engaging in brand name sponsorships of entertainment and sports events. Other countries have enacted similar bans.

However, in Indonesia and other developing countries, tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians, a practice that health advocates have condemned as a means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising. Indonesia is one of the few countries that has yet to ratify the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires countries to ban all tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships.

In an April 8 letter, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids wrote, "We call on you to put the health of Indonesians first and require the withdrawal of PT Djarum's LA Lights sponsorship of this concert and any other tobacco sponsorship in your upcoming concert series in Asia. We also urge you to publicly announce that you will no longer allow PT Djarum or any other tobacco company to sponsor your concerts or promote their products through events in which you are participating."

A letter from SEATCA stated, "It is not too late to rectify the situation. We urge you to halt the tobacco sponsorship of your concert in Indonesia and pull back all promotional materials for your concert that carries the L.A. Lights brand. It is important that you and your music are not associated with cigarettes and ill health."

Clarkson's fans around the world, including Indonesia, have also expressed their disapproval of the tobacco sponsorship. Fans have posted hundreds of messages on Clarkson's Facebook fan page urging her to renounce the sponsorship and sent more than 1,300 e-mails to Clarkson's management.

Clarkson can look to singing star Alicia Keys as an example of how to effectively stop the tobacco industry from using internationally renowned artists as a marketing tool. In July 2008, Keys' Jakarta concert was initially sponsored by "A Mild" cigarettes, which is produced by Philip Morris International and its Indonesian subsidiary Sampoerna. When this was brought to her attention, Keys withdrew tobacco sponsorship of the concert and had related advertising removed.

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.

The letters to Kelly Clarkson can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/kellyclarkson.