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Indonesia Tobacco Giant’s Shameful Billboard Says “DON’T QUIT”

June 10, 2013

Indonesia has been called the tobacco industry’s playground due to the country’s large number of smokers and unrestricted tobacco marketing.

In the latest example, Indonesian tobacco giant PT Djarum has placed billboards promoting its L.A. Lights cigarettes with the shameful slogan “DON’T QUIT.” If discouraging smokers from quitting isn’t bad enough, the ad appears to mock efforts to reduce smoking by instead encouraging smokers to “DO IT” and using the slogan “Let’s Do It!”

Left unsaid is the fact that half of all smokers who follow these directions to keep smoking instead of quitting will die prematurely as a result.

It’s only the latest example of deplorable tobacco marketing in Indonesia.

In 2011, Philip Morris subsidiary Sampoerna placed a billboard in Jakarta that basically told Indonesian kids cigarettes are a “cool friend” worth dying for. The billboard depicted a young man reaching out to catch up with friends on a bus, with the slogan: 'Dying is better than leaving a friend. Sampoerna is a cool friend.'

Tobacco companies also regularly sponsor concerts in Indonesia, often featuring music stars popular with youth. This highly effective way of marketing cigarettes to kids has been banned in the United States and many countries, but not in Indonesia.

Until Indonesia enacts strong tobacco control measures, the tobacco industry will remain free to engage in irresponsible marketing in a country where two-thirds of men use tobacco, more than 200,000 people die each year from tobacco-related disease, and 20 percent of youth aged 13-15 smoke.

Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia that has yet to ratify the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – the health treaty that obligates parties to implement proven methods to reduce tobacco use, including bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships. Djarum’s new ad is a powerful reminder why Indonesia’s government must act now to protect the country’s children and health.