Indonesian ad industry burned over tobacco ads

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JAKARTA--Indonesia's ad industry is under fire over tobacco advertising. Indonesia's representative to the World Health Organization, Robert Kim-Farley, has blamed weak enforcement of Indonesia's regulations on tobacco ads for more youngsters lighting up. He says the ad industry and media organizations should play a part in the anti-smoking campaign.

"Don't accept tobacco advertising," Mr. Kim-Farley said in conjunction with No Tobacco Day on May 31. "Don't accept tobacco advertising without health warnings -- in fact, don't accept tobacco advertising at all."

Most media organizations pay no attention to a decade-old Ministry of Information decree banning all forms of cigarette commercials on TV and radio.

It's difficult to turn down lucrative cigarette ads, particulary in the economic crisis, says Riza Primadi, news and PR director for private TV station SCTV.

"I must admit that the cigarette industry is one of our biggest advertisers," Mr. Primadi says. "And during the present economic situation, we don't have the luxury of rejecting them. It's a matter of life and death. We're being realistic -- every penny counts now."

The smoking lobby also has a new voice in Indonesia. The Tobacco Partners Foundation has been founded in conjunction with No Tobacco Day to "present a balanced view about tobacco," says its chairman, Emiel Thabrani, a former executive of BAT Indonesia.

Mr. Thabrani says his foundation's message is that the decision to smoke is up to the individual and for the anti-smoking lobby to remember the activity is legal.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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