• April 24, 2024

Tobacco learning curve

schools Indonesia photo
Photo by Marc Veraart

Cigarette companies in Indonesia are targeting schoolchildren by spending massively on advertising that is placed ‘in and around school areas’, according to a story in The Jakarta Globe quoting the non-profit child advocacy organization, Lentera Anak Indonesia.

After monitoring 90 schools in Padang (West Sumatra), Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara), Tangerang Selatan (Banten), Bogor and Bekasi (West Java), the group said conspicuous cigarette advertising was nearly “everywhere” around the schools.

Lentera Anak chairwoman Lisda Sundari said the Education Ministry had issued a regulation in 2015 banning smoking cigarettes inside school grounds, but that the regulation was powerless when it came to protecting students from exposure to massive cigarette advertising.

Food stalls and small kiosks near schools were ‘best agents’ for cigarette companies targeting these students, Lisda said. The owners were paid between $45 and $300 a year to install a 2 meter-square banner at their stalls and kiosks.

“The cigarette companies want to ‘normalize’ these massive advertising,” Lisda said. “They want schoolchildren to think there’s nothing wrong with smoking cigarettes and forget the health problems it could create.”

Meanwhile, after being briefed about the threat posed by the cigarette advertisements, students at the 90 schools that Lentera Anak studied during its four-month monitoring and guidance program banded together online to create an anti-cigarette advertisement campaign using the hashtag #TolakJadiTarget (Refuse to be a target).

In Mataram, students collected money to compensate kiosk owners who were willing to pull down their cigarette advertisement banners and replace them with a banner from the #TolakJadiTarget campaign.

And in Bekasi, schools worked with the district’s public order agency to raid kiosk owners who installed cigarette advertisements.

“We’re trying to persuade the district administration to issue a regional regulation banning cigarette ads around school,” Uchi, a teacher in a state junior high school in Bekasi, said.