House Speaker Takes Aim at Cigarette Ads
Ezra Sihite & Alina Musta’idah
The House of Representatives speaker has become the latest person to weigh in on the ongoing the tobacco control debate, calling on Friday for more stringent monitoring of cigarette ads on television.
Marzuki Alie, from the ruling Democratic Party, urged the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to be more thorough about screening cigarette ads, arguing that many of those that were broadcast tended to glamorize smoking.
“The KPI doesn’t seem to be functioning,” he said in an e-mail about the broadcast watchdog.
Marzuki said he was aware that cigarette advertising was a lucrative source of income for television stations, but that this did not excuse the KPI from allowing ads that clearly linked “heroic actions” to cigarette brands.
By law, cigarette advertising on TV is restricted to the hours between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., to minimize children’s exposure to them. Advertisers are also prohibited from showing cigarettes, cigarette packs or people smoking.
Marzuki’s comments are the latest in a debate being waged as the government prepares to issue a tobacco control regulation that would impose further restrictions, not just on TV ads, but also on advertising through other media.
The regulation would require cigarette ads on TV to devote 10 percent of their running time to written warnings and a pictorial warning.
Ads on radio would have to devote 10 percent of their duration to verbal warnings, while still-image ads would be required to devote 10 percent of their area for a warning.
The regulation also stipulates specific prohibitions for cigarette ads in print media. One of them is that these ads may never be published on the front or back cover of a print publication or near ads for food and drink products.
Restrictions on outdoor media advertising include a prohibition on tobacco ads being displayed in smoke-free zones or along main roads, and caps the size of ads on outdoor billboards at 72 square meters.
The restrictions, however, have riled tobacco farmers, who brought traffic to a halt in Jakarta earlier this week with a series of demonstrations against the impending regulation.
On Thursday, some opponents claimed the regulation was no less than “genocide” for traditional clove-flavored kretek cigarettes.
Agus Setiawan, from the Indonesian Kretek Stakeholders Society (MKPPI), said the kretek industry was already struggling, going from 5,000 factories in 2005 to 1,000 today.
“With this regulation, the government will be digging the grave for the national kretek industry,” he said. “This is genocide for kretek.”