Anti-smoking activists from across Southeast Asia have commended the governor of Bali for standing up to the tobacco industry and taking a firm stand for his people's well-being.
The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) on Monday congratulated Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika after he declined to have Bali host the Inter-Tabac Asia, which was set to take place in a famous resort in Bali from Feb. 27 to Feb. 28.
Inter-Tabac Asia, the largest trade fair held by the global tobacco industry, is aimed at boosting tobacco sales in Asia.
"The Bali governor has put his people's interests above others," SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee wrote in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
She added that the governor's stance was a genuine service to humanity. "His stance stands as an example all world leaders should emulate. Bali, one of the world's most popular tourism destinations, has given fresh air to the world," said Ritthiphakdee.
International tobacco control advocate Mary Assunta said the Bali governor should be commended for his bold and courageous move to put public health above profits.
"The entire Indonesian nation should respect Governor Pastika's decision and ensure that the event is not moved to another venue in Indonesia," Assunta said.
She said that Surabaya and Jakarta were reportedly being targeted by the organizer as alternative venues.
Previously, two big tobacco fairs, ProTobEx Asia and Inter-Tabac Asia, took place in Manila, the Philippines, in 2012 and 2013. Jakarta hosted World Tobacco Asia in 2010/2011 and the First Indonesian Tobacco and Cigarette Expo in 2012, both of which were met with angry protests by local and international public health advocates.
Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, is a key market for the global tobacco industry. (ebf)