Lisda Sundari of Indonesia Honored for Leadership in Fight Against Tobacco Use


May 22, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lisda Sundari of Indonesia will be honored with the 2019 Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence for her leadership in the global fight against tobacco use. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will present Ms. Sundari with the award at its annual gala on May 23 in Washington, D.C.

The Wilkenfeld Award was established in honor of the late Judy Wilkenfeld, the founder of Tobacco-Free Kids’ international program, a tireless leader in the effort to reduce tobacco use and in the adoption of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the influential international treaty that commits countries to take strong action to reduce tobacco use. The award is given annually to an international tobacco control advocate who has made extraordinary contributions to reducing tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries and who both inspires and enables others to do the same in the spirit exemplified by Wilkenfeld.

Ms. Sundari is the chairperson and founder of Lentera Anak Foundation in Indonesia, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of Indonesian children, including the right to health. Ms. Sundari has fought tirelessly to protect Indonesia’s children from predatory tobacco companies by galvanizing communities to pass smoke-free policies and restrict tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Ms. Sundari’s activism centers on a belief in the power of youth voices. Since 2013, she has built and strengthened youth voices for tobacco control through the FCTC Youth Forum. The Forum now stretches across 20 cities, reaches more than 50,000 students and has sent more than 11,000 letters to Indonesia’s president asking Indonesia to accede to the FCTC.

“Tobacco companies target youth to replace those smokers lost to death and disease caused by tobacco products,” said Ms. Sundari. “We have a duty to tell children they are being targeted and encourage them to fight back. Through the voices of the youth, we can change the world.”

In 2015, Ms. Sundari led Lentera Anak Foundation’s efforts to document how tobacco companies surround Indonesian schools with tobacco ads, displays and banners. Her efforts launched a grassroots movement that spurred 90 schools and 2,000 students across five cities to pull down the ads and denounce the targeting of youth by tobacco companies. These efforts contributed to a ban on tobacco advertisements in the capital of Jakarta and many other cities in Indonesia and have become an example of effective campaigning for tobacco control advocates around the world. The campaign pioneered by Ms. Sundari, called “Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets,” has now been replicated in more than 24 countries.

Ms. Sundari continues to lead the charge against tobacco companies in Indonesia, most recently exposing a national youth badminton tournament that allows tobacco companies to target children through advertisements and sponsorship. In close collaboration with the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, she is also advocating for smoke-free cities and the prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship as part of the criteria for Child-Friendly Cities. So far, 389 of the 550 cities and districts in Indonesia have committed to this goal.

“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is proud to recognize Lisda Sundari for her courageous, tireless and exceptional leadership in working to reduce tobacco use and save lives,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Indonesia has historically been Big Tobacco’s playground, but leaders like Lisda are changing this dynamic to protect future generations. Her fearless leadership proves that a tobacco-free generation in Indonesia and around the world is entirely possible.”

Globally, tobacco kills seven million people each year and is projected to kill one billion people this century unless governments take effective action now to reduce tobacco use.