Music stars slammed for cigarette company-sponsored gigs

01 March 2013 - 16:08 By Sapa-dpa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Anti-tobacco and child rights campaigners in Indonesia on Friday criticized international musicians for agreeing to perform at a jazz festival for which a cigarette company is the main sponsor.

The Indonesian Commission on Tobacco Control urged participating British stars such as Joss Stone, Craig David and Lisa Stansfield to demand tobacco sponsorship be removed from the International Java Jazz Festival, which was to run from Friday to Sunday.

PT Djarum, one of the country's largest cigarette makers, is the main sponsor.

"We Indonesians are proud to have Java Jazz Festival and are glad to have you involved," the commission said in a message to international and local artists participating in what has been billed as one of the largest jazz festivals in Asia.

"But supporting this festival means you help them promote (cigarettes) to Indonesian children," it said. "We need your support to free Indonesian children from the trap of nicotine addiction."

Organizer Peter Gontha said the festival might not be held in the coming years without sponsorship from a cigarette company.

But the National Commission on Child Protection disagreed, saying that in 2009 and 2011, none of the sponsors was a cigarette company.

"We have witnessed in the past that teenagers and children attended the festival," the commission said. "When cigarette companies sponsor music concerts and sports events, they want to create the image that smoking is cool."

Indonesia, home to 237 million people, ranks third in the world for the number of smokers after China and India, according to the World Health Organization.

Concerts, sporting events and youth activities are regularly sponsored by cigarette brands.

About 65 per cent of Indonesian males and 35 per cent of females aged 15 or older smoke, with many starting the nicotine habit at a young age, the Health Ministry said.

In 2010, a video showing 2-year-old Aldi Rizal smoking a cigarette drew international attention after it hit the internet. The boy, who was said to smoke 40 cigarettes a day, was sent to rehabilitation and has since kicked the habit.

The government issued a decree in January that requires producers to put pictorial health warnings about the danger of tobacco on cigarette packets.