Big Tobacco: You Give Bon Jovi a Bad… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Big Tobacco: You Give Bon Jovi a Bad Name

September 04, 2015

Jon Bon Jovi quit smoking several years ago, and his foundation works “to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair” and has supported programs for kids with cancer. So the rocker should be concerned that one of Indonesia’s biggest tobacco companies is using his name and his band to market its deadly products.

Cigarette company Gudang Garam is sponsoring Bon Jovi’s September 11 concert in Jakarta and using the concert to promote its popular Signature brand. Billboards advertising the concert proclaim “Signature Moment” and “Bon Jovi Live!” in large letters, but laughably try to escape responsibility for enticing kids with a barely visible disclaimer stating, “Signature Moment together with Bon Jovi are against children smoking.”

Tobacco sponsorships of concerts and other events are banned in the United States and many other countries for a very good reason – they help market cigarettes to impressionable youth. But they’re still allowed in Indonesia, which has some of the world’s weakest laws to reduce tobacco use and is the only country in Southeast Asia that has yet to ratify the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Bands like Bon Jovi have the power to neutralize tobacco’s influence by speaking out and rejecting tobacco sponsorships. In 2010, Kelly Clarkson removed tobacco advertising and sponsorship from her Jakarta concert at the urging of fans and health advocates. Similarly, Alicia Keys refused to play an Indonesia concert until it dropped sponsorship and marketing by Philip Morris International and its Indonesian subsidiary Sampoerna.

In Indonesia, smoking kills at least 225,000 people each year. An astounding 41 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 15 smoke, 78 percent of youth are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, and the adult male smoking rate is the highest in the world. Indonesian households with smokers spend more on tobacco than they do on education or healthcare.

Famous international artists visiting Indonesia contribute to this crisis when they help glamorize tobacco use and promote cigarette brands by performing in tobacco-sponsored concerts. Musicians like Bon Jovi should stand up to Big Tobacco and help save lives by refusing to play concerts unless tobacco sponsorships and branding are completely removed.

Bon Jovi’s visit to Indonesia will be brief. By refusing to allow tobacco companies to use its name, the band can have a lasting, positive impact on young people.