Tobacco Ads Not Appropriate For Sports Events: Komnas PT

More sporting events in Indonesia should be free of tobacco advertising or sponsorship, following the example of the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games, activists said on Thursday.

Mia Hanafiah, the managing director of the National Commission on Tobacco Control (Komnas PT), said it was considered normal for cigarette companies to sponsor sports events, an attitude she said needed to end.

Djarum Tobacco Advertising

A soccer facility sponsored by Djarum, the third largest tobacco producer in Indonesia.

“You can’t mix sports and tobacco, so we’re slowly trying to de-normalize it,” she said.

Komnas PT is seeking to do this, she said, by pushing for legislation banning tobacco advertising at sports events. The legislation in question is a supporting regulation for the 2009 Health Law, which was supposed to be passed in October last year but is still being drafted.

Mia said that once completed, the legislation would “regulate tobacco in a more detailed way.” “This includes [identifying] places that should be free from tobacco ads,” she said.

“We expect the government to treat tobacco the same way as it does alcohol. Addictive substances shouldn’t be advertised.”

She acknowledged, however, that a total ban on cigarette advertising was too ambitious a target for now. Komnas PT will focus on banning advertising in public places where children and young people can be exposed to it, such as schools and mosques, Mia said.

“We want sports events to be included. A total ban on tobacco companies at sports events,” she said.

Arifin Panigoro, a member of the Komnas PT advisory council and owner of the Medco business empire, said the proposed ban should not spook sports teams and administrators into thinking they will lose their main sponsors.

He said there were a growing number of non-tobacco companies eager to sponsor sports events. “And they don’t want to be put side by side with tobacco companies.”

Afansa Moeloek, the Komnas PT chairman, echoed that sentiment, saying Indonesia had proved through its successful hosting of the Southeast Asian Games that it could hold a major sporting event without involvement from tobacco companies.

The Komnas PT press conference on Thursday was also attended by Titus Bonai and Octovianus Maniani, both members of the Indonesian football team that won the silver medal at the Games, and both non-smokers.

The players said they were committed to the campaign to phase out tobacco from sports. They added that they would turn down any advertising deals from cigarette companies.

“Not even for Rp 10 billion,” Titus said.

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