The Jakarta Post
Antismoking campaigners have called for a ban on cigarette advertisements near schools after a study found high prevalence of such targeted campaigning in big cities.
The study was held by the Children Media Development Foundation (YPMA), an NGO set up by communications researchers concerned with the influence of media on children, Lentera Anak Indonesia (LAI), an independent organization that advocates child-friendly policies, and Smoke Free Agents (SFA), a community focusing on tobacco control.
Hendriyani, a member of the YPMA, said that the team's recent study showed a staggering number of cigarette advertisements deliberately placed near schools or other areas popular with the young.
'The ads were placed near snacks, candy and soft drinks, falsely insinuating that cigarettes were as harmless as snacks and so on,' she told a press conference in Central Jakarta recently.
The study was conducted in 360 schools ' from elementary to senior high ' in five large cities in the country, namely Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Padang in West Sumatra, from January to March this year. The research found cigarette ads placed near 85 percent of the schools monitored, with 69 percent of the ads placed in stores frequently visited by students. Billboards showing cigarette ads were also found near one in every three schools the researchers monitored.
Promotional tobacco-price displays, Hendriyani said, were also found near 54 percent of the schools.
The University of Indonesia lecturer said the study also took into account banners on events, including sporting, artistic and cultural events, sponsored by cigarette producers.
'Cigarettes are marked today to project a falsely positive image, particularly among teenagers, making the students regard smoking as popular, mature and related to friendship,' she said.
The more students were exposed to the ads, she added, the stronger their urge to take up smoking.
Various studies have shown that every year, 200,000 people in Indonesia die of smoking-related illnesses. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Indonesia Report 2011 said 40 percent of 13-to-15-year-old adolescents in Indonesia were smokers, up from 20.3 percent in 2010 and 7.1 percent in 1995.
'Teenagers are seen as the future consumers. That's why we found a lot of cigarette ads near schools,' Hendriyani said.
Psychologist Liza Marielly Djaprie said teenagers could not be held responsible for their own choices.
'Teenagers do not have the capacity or capability to think critically and decide whether or not they want to smoke. They are also prone to fall victim to irresponsible influences and peer pressure,' she said.
The campaigners called on the central government and regional administrations to pay more attention to the issue and ban the placement of cigarette ads near schools.
Separately, Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama said that cigarette advertisements were forbidden in all public places, including kiosks and small stores.
'Those banners are not allowed. The Tax Agency is responsible for the supervision,' Ahok told reporters at City Hall recently.
Ahok signed Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub) No. 1/2015 on the prohibition of outdoor billboards promoting cigarette products on Jan. 7. The prohibition took effect on Jan. 13.
However, billboard companies that had secured permits before the regulation took effect could continue displaying their outdoor advertisements until the end of the permit period, which would not be extended.
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