Cigarette Companies Target Children With Low Prices: Activists

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Jakarta. The cigarette industry in Indonesia appears to be increasingly targeting children by highlighting cheap cigarette prices in its advertising, child rights and anti-tobacco activists said in a survey released on Wednesday (25/10).

More than 80 percent of cigarette advertisements cite cigarette prices, the survey — by Jakarta-based Lentera Anak Foundation — found.

Activists surveyed more than 1,000 cigarette billboards, banners, posters and other advertising platforms in ten Indonesian cities between May and June this year.

"Ideally, cigarette ads should be banned and prices should be raised. But if ads are still allowed, they should not highlight the [low] prices," anti-tobacco activist Abdillah Ahsan said.

Most companies sell cigarettes for between Rp 10,000 (75 cents) and Rp 15,000 per pack, or between Rp 600 and Rp 1,000 per stick, the survey found.

"Cheap cigarettes and massive promotion will attract more children to buy them," Lentera Anak chairwoman Lisda Sundari said.

Most Indonesians have their first taste of cigarettes between the age of 10 and 14 in the past 20 years, government data in 2013 showed.

Activists have been urging the government to increase cigarette excise in order to raise the price of cigarettes.

The World Health Organization recommends a minimum cigarette excise of 70 percent of retail prices.

Indonesia has yet to ratify the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which sets guidelines on cigarette pricing, taxation and advertising.

"Cheap cigarettes is the only reason why the number of smokers in our country keeps increasing," public health expert Hasbullah Thabrany said.

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