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Same Old Tricks: Big Tobacco Partners with International Music Stars in Indonesia

October 09, 2012


Thanks to some of the world’s weakest tobacco control laws, Indonesia continues to be the target of rampant, unrestricted tobacco marketing, including industry-sponsored concerts that are banned in the United States and many other countries.

Unfortunately, popular international musicians continue to perform at these concerts, helping tobacco companies market their deadly and addictive products to Indonesia’s youth.

In the latest example, tobacco company PT Djarum recently sponsored the popular Java SoulNation Festival in Jakarta under the name of its L.A. Lights cigarette brand – and it’s no secret what the event was really about: convincing Indonesians to keep on smoking L.A. Lights cigarettes or to give them a try.

Indonesian youth attending the concert were treated to an L.A. Lights archway at the entrance, booths selling L.A. Lights-branded souvenirs, and L.A. Lights signage on stages, screens, and just about any place possible [Scroll down for photos].

The Java SoulNation Festival featured internationally known artists including headliners Robin Thicke, Scissor Sisters and James Morrison. These performers would be restricted from performing in tobacco-sponsored concerts at home-for good reason-but for some reason they think it’s OK to do so in Indonesia.

Though health experts have condemned these concerts as a means of convincing a new generation of Indonesians to take up smoking, the tobacco industry continues to promote these events. In 2010, Kelly Clarkson made international headlines after signing on to perform in Indonesia under tobacco industry sponsorship. After coming under pressure from fans and health advocates around the globe, Clarkson put the health of her fans first and dropped tobacco industry sponsorship from the show.

Until Indonesia enacts strong tobacco control legislation, the tobacco industry is free to market to youth in a country where two-thirds of men use tobacco, nearly 200,000 Indonesians die each year from tobacco-related disease, and 20 percent of youth aged 13-15 smoke. International artists need to join health advocates in standing up to big tobacco and saying no to tobacco industry sponsorships like Java SoulNation.

Scenes from the Java SoulNation Festival