Tag Archives: children

Cranberries etc peddle tobacco to Indonesian kids

Delores O'Riordan of the Cranberries giving a peace sign - or is she asking her fans for a smoke?

It’s that time of year again. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was ranting and raving against the likes of Wolfmother and Chris Carrabba for accepting tobacco sponsorship to play in Indonesia. Well, another crop of muso sell-outs led by the Cranberries (that’s what’s-her-face pictured left) are lining up like dirty little piggies at the tobacco-money trough to play at the Java Rockin’ Land music festival from July 22 to 24.

In other words, they’re telling Indonesian kids it’s cool and sophisticated and very, very sexy to smoke. Nice one, creeps.

Here’s a message from a kind reader, Marita Hefler, drawing my attention to the event and a petition against the show’s tobacco sponsorship. Marita writes:

Hi there, great writing – love your posts about the tobacco industry in Indonesia. Java Rockin’ Land is happening again 22-24 July, with Gudang Garam the main sponsor. There is a petition urging all the bands involved to demand the sponsorship be dumped, see: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-international-bands-to-drop-tobacco-sponsorship-in-indonesia. So far, no artist has responded. Yet again, double standards prevail in the lineup: the Good Charlotte frontman is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and he and his brother have their own children’s foundation; 30 Seconds to Mars are active in environmental causes, and lead singer Jared Leto support Elysium, a charity to support critically ill children; Neon Trees have said they don’t want to be part of tobacco sponsorship and have played at an anti-smoking gig; Ed Kowalczyk is a World Vision rep. Blood Red Shoes have supported a cancer charity, and The Cranberries are well-known for speaking out about political issues. Apparently international bands just dump their principles in a bin before they board a plane to Jakarta. Disgraceful.

To these musicians I say: Do the right thing. Follow the example of Alicia Keys or Kelly Clarkson, and demand the tobacco companies cancel their sponsorship of the event. Failing this, cancel your shows. That’s the only way you can salvage your credibility in the eyes of people who care about kids in countries like Indonesia, where they are the explicit targets of an aggressive and foul Big Tobacco marketing campaign the likes of which the West has not seen in decades (because it was made illegal). By playing at this event you are being used by tobacco companies to create young nicotine addicts in a way that would be unacceptable and illegal in your home countries.

Acceptance of the tobacco money means you are either desperate for cash, or so greedy that you don’t give a damn about your young fans. Or both. Oink oink!

(Photo courtesy of Joe Crimmings Photography)

Indonesian extremist of the day: like father like son

I found this little boy at a rally of the Hizbut Tahrir, a radical Islamist group, in central Jakarta. How old is he, five? Does he think adulterers should be stoned to death, one of Hizbut Tahrir’s core beliefs? Does he know what an adulterer is? Can he read the sign he’s holding, attacking a Christian church group? Does he know what a Christian is? For that matter, does he know what a Muslim is?

I feel so sorry for this little kid. What a waste of human potential. I think of those child soldiers in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, raised as ignorant, blind extremists.  Many of those children were kidnapped and brainwashed by rebels. The shocking thing about this kid is that his own parents are doing this to him, in the name of a mainstream religion and at a time of peace and prosperity in his country.

Tobacco ad of the day: the kids are not alright

This one goes out to all the bands that are playing at the Java Rockin’Land festival from Friday to Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia. They’re all a bunch of monkeys doing tricks for the man from the tobacco company for scraps of pretty green. Totally uncool.

This American tobacco ad from the 1950s is targeting teenagers. These days it would be illegal, because of what we now know about the connection between tobacco marketing, addiction, disease and death.

But Indonesia might as well be back in the 1950s. In fact, it is subject to a bigger and bolder tobacco company campaign to create teenage cigarette addicts, and the bands playing this weekend are complicit up to their greedy necks.

A special mention must go to Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, who a little more than two months ago played a benefit show before an audience of cancer survivors to raise money for cancer care. I guess Big Tobacco just made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Special mention should also go to the promoters, who argue that they are not forcing teenagers to light up. Smoking is a choice, they say. Yes it is, an extremely bad choice which responsible adults should not be promoting as cool or glamorous or masculine or rebellious or anything else but stupid and dangerous.

The bands who are playing this gig are puppets, nothing more. If they ever claimed to have any artistic integrity they are sell-outs of the lowest kind.

And the officials who allow Big Tobacco to run riot in Indonesia are even worse.

This is what Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of the Jakarta-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations  (ASEAN), said this week at a conference on smoking in Asia:

I think the people must be informed that their health is being compromised by some of these public officials who are puppets of a campaign of persuasion. And the irony is these people know better, they don’t smoke, the entire family doesn’t smoke. They become the tools and the partners of strategies almost willingly and that is something that has to be corrected, but it is an uphill struggle.

Tools, puppets, monkeys … whichever way you cut it this song remains the same.

Here is a list of the Big Tobacco stooges who are scheduled to play at the pro-smoking Java Rockin’Land: ARKARNA, DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, DATAROCK, DI-RECT, GALAXY 7, LIVING THINGS, MUTEMATH, NOT CALLED JINX, SOCIAL CODE, STEREOPHONICS, STEVE FISTER, Stryper, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, THE VINES, WOLFMOTHER (plus a host of local acts).

(For more old tobacco ads check out the Stanford School of Medicine)

Fans corner Dashboard Confessional on Facebook

Anti-cancer campaigners one day, tobacco marketers the next: US band Dashboard Confessional is sending pretty confusing messages to its fans about what it is they stand for. And some of those fans are starting to demand answers.

The band’s Facebook page features a plug for the upcoming gig in Jakarta which is being sponsored by a major tobacco company. Tobacco sponsorship is bad enough anywhere it occurs, but in a country like Indonesia it’s absolutely repugnant.

Most of the responses to Dashboard’s Facebook Wall post are typically mindless, but a few of DC’s fans obviously have a conscience and are voicing their concerns:

Confused fans might also like to send Chris Carrabba a Tweet at @ChrisCarrabba. His third last post highlighted his participation in a cancer benefit show in July:

This Saturday hike with me to the top of Pikes Peak & support cancer care! We’ll play some songs at the top! More here: http://bit.ly/bsuh5w

He links to the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation. So what is it, Chris? You can’t have it both ways. Your fans deserve an answer.

The other US bands participating in the pro-smoking event include The Smashing Pumpkins and MUTEMATH. Here are links to their Facebook pages if you want to make a comment.

(Updated for typo, Oct 8)

Wolfmother all shook up over tobacco money

Andrew Stockdale

Australian band Wolfmother is sending mixed messages over whether or not it will play at a tobacco-sponsored event in Indonesia next month.

Noel-Redding haired frontman Andrew Stockdale was reported last week to have said the band wasn’t going to play the Java Rockin’ Land festival alongside The Vines, The Smashing Pumpkins and others because he didn’t want to “line my pockets” with filthy tobacco money (the gig is being sponsored by Indonesian cancer merchants Gudang Garam).

But the band’s manager quickly stepped in to tell ABC radio Stockdale had “thought about his job as a performer” and decided to do the show after all.

Being a “performer” apparently means entertaining anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances as long as the money is right, kinda like a monkey.

Jakarta is full of trained monkeys which trade their independence and freedom to perform for scraps of food. A few more probably won’t make a difference.

The manager added that even if Wolfmother was being used to encourage children to take up a lifetime addiction to nicotine, this was “none of (Stockdale’s) business”.  

A strange choice of word that – “business” – because it seems that is exactly what it is to Stockdale and his pals.

The band’s website confirms they will play the gig:

Wolfmother will be playing at Java Rockin’land Festival on October 10th. This one is for the fans in Indonesia who have parted with their very own cold hard cash to see Wolfmother. We realize their [sic] are sponsors and we neither support or [sic] condemn the sponsors affiliated with the festival. We are very much looking forward to what we hope will be the first of many shows to come in Indonesia.

As angelicIV notes on Aussie music web-zine Mess and Noise it “shows how powerful the tobacco companys [sic] are in indonesia…if you read the last line of the release it basically says yeah without buying into the tobacco companys [sic] we loose [sic] the market.”

Living in Indonesia and knowing only too well how powerful the industry is, I’d say that assessment is spot on. It’s also an indication of the growth of the rock music scene in Indonesia in recent years. Incomes are increasing as the country continues to modernise and open up following the fall of the Suharto dictatorship.

A country of 240 million people with 40 million internet users and A LOT of kids who want to rock out to anyone with a guitar and a leather jacket (eg Slash) is a potentially massive market for Australian music.

Meanwhile the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has written to Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins to plead with him to pull out of the gig:

Indonesia has few laws to protect its youth from this type of egregious tobacco marketing and the tobacco industry aggressively promotes its deadly products with dreadful success. Tobacco use kills an estimated 200,000 Indonesians each year, and approximately 35 percent of the population smokes. At this rate, 1,644 Indonesians will die from tobacco‐related illness during the three days of the Java Rockin’Land festival.

 (Photo of Stockdale courtesy of mrmatt via wikimedia commons and the monkey by John E. Lester via flickr)

Aussie bands skewered over Indonesian tobacco deal

Australian bands Wolfmother and The Vines have been challenged to justify their participation in a tobacco-sponsored rock festival in Indonesia next month.

The event is the Gudang Garam InterMusic Java Rockin’land 2010 in Jakarta on October 8-10. The Smashing Pumpkins will headline the festival, supported by a host of other foreign acts including Stereophonics and (ironically) The Living Things. It will be the biggest rock music event in Indonesia’s history.

It’s being sponsored by Gudang Garam, a major producer of deadly kretek clove cigarettes. The company owns an Indonesian badminton team and is a prolific promoter of popular music, which it uses to increase tobacco addiction rates among young people.

Writing on The Drum on the ABC’s website, Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health describe Indonesia’s tobacco regulations as ranking among “basket-case nations (such as Somalia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and the USA)”.

Indonesia has virtually no tobacco control policies or significant education programs. British American Tobacco (Bentoel) and Philip Morris (Sampoerna) are both massively engaged in Indonesia, a kind of last frontier of Marlboro Country. Despite repeated unctuous statements from both companies about their corporate social responsibility and not wanting youth to smoke, they are frequent sponsors of youth-oriented music events. Admission often includes free cigarettes.

But the authors reserve most of their scorn for Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale, who claimed in a recent interview that there was some sort of righteous goodness about his musical life:

Now all I’ve got to do is make music. That’s all I’ve got to do. Music and playing shows is cool. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not killing people. It’s not starting a war, I’m not polluting the atmosphere, I’m just making music.

Chapman and Freeman highlight the stunning hypocrisy of the singer’s attitude by pointing to the fact that tobacco industry marketing is a “key factor” in the deaths of about six million people a year from smoking-related diseases.

It’s pretty easy to poke fun at the utterances of some rock musicians, but there are times when no amount of cruelty is enough. Chapman and Freeman continue:

In his interview, Stockdale reflected on his newborn daughter “And you look at her and you think, she’s four months old. What kind of world is she going to live in when she’s, you know, 40? That’s a scary thought.” The scary thought is that nations like Indonesia can still play open host to massive scale tobacco promotions and that international entertainers are lining up to help the companies sell as much tobacco as possible.

To get an idea of just how repulsive Indonesian tobacco advertising can be, take a look at Gudang Garam’s explanation of its involvement in the local music scene. The company says it has a commitment to Indonesian rock music and wants to “open the eyes of the international world that Indonesia is conducive”. Right… Could whoever wrote that please take an English lesson? It continues in similar, sickening style:

… we feel that compared to other genres, rock embodies of soul, spirit and personality of the Gudang Garam International brand, Adamant, Masculine, Courageous and Modern, and also continues to evolve.

Through this grand event, Gudang Garam International also attempts create [sic] a closer proximity for the genre’s younger crowds to their idols and continue [sic] to inspire them to create new work of arts [sic] and shake the nation’s, and event [sic] international, rock music scene.

And if we can get a few thousand more kids to became addicted to our deadly product that would be good too! I wonder how Stockdale would feel knowing that his “courageous” and “masculine” image is just what this tobacco company wants to make its drug attractive to teenagers.

Chapman and Freeman conclude their piece by asking whether Wolfmother will follow the examples of Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys, both of whom became embroiled in tobacco sponsorship scandals in Indonesia. Both women played their Jakarta gigs only after the tobacco companies dropped their advertising.

Other artists – such as James Blunt, Jamiroquai, Incubus, Anggun and Slash – have felt no such qualms about selling their young fans to the tobacco industry.

(Photo of Stockdale via Wikimedia Commons)

Indonesian tobacco firm blames govt for youth marketing

Indonesia’s biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris affiliated Sampoerna, has issued a statement absolving itself of responsibility for its own aggressive marketing to children and women in the developing country.

Sampoerna told The Financial Times it’s the government’s fault for not banning such advertising:

Sampoerna also says that it has repeatedly urged the Indonesian government “to adopt regulation to further restrict marketing and advertising and to adopt an enforceable minimum age law with regards to tobacco purchase . . . We recognise that our products, like all tobacco products, cause disease and are addictive. In our view, issues surrounding tobacco are best addressed through comprehensive and effective government legislation.”

So the company knows that its product causes fatal disease and addiction but it continues to market them to young children because the government hasn’t told them to stop. Until there is “effective” government legislation, they say, we’re just going to carry on pushing our deadly drug on children. 

What’s the Indonesian government doing in response to this hokum? Pretty much nothing, because the tobacco industry contributes more than six billion dollars a year in taxes (even though excise duties are among the lowest in the world).

It’s all about the money, simple as that. Stuff the people. Stuff the kids.

Indonesian Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih told The Financial Times that reining in the tobacco industry is one of her top priorities, but we’ll see how far she gets when push comes to shove.

The minister has been all but mute in the face of recent scandals over child smoking and cigarette advertising, and her rare statements have been feeble at best.

So it’s hardly credible when she tells a foreign newspaper that she’s going to get tough with Big Tobacco: “It is one of my highest priorities. I will feel very guilty if I don’t initiate that.”

OK minister, so why don’t you do something? We’re all waiting. Don’t be shy…

The fact is that only a week or so ago the minister was asked about cigarette marketing and she passed the buck to local government, saying it was their responsibility. Technically she’s correct but maybe it’s time for a little leadership on this issue.

Kelly Clarkson removed tobacco branding from these Jakarta gig posters

Indonesia currently has almost no restrictions on tobacco advertising and cigarettes are regularly handed out to teenagers at brand-sponsored events like pop concerts etc.

One thing the minister could do is make a public stand, give interviews about the evils of smoking and the need for reform, criticise the marketing practices of tobacco companies, visit the family of the smoking toddler. The list is obvious and long but this minister, if she is doing anything at all, apparently prefers to be invisible.

Endang says she is drafting what The Financial Times calls “guidelines” on tobacco marketing to women and children which would ban billboards, slap pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and outlaw smoking in public buildings. It doesn’t mention event sponsorship, one of the industry’s favoured techniques for getting kids hooked on nicotine.

 She also promised to adopt the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by the end of the year, hardly a bold move considering Indonesia is a shameful laggard in ratifying this internationally recognised, “evidence-based treaty” on tobacco regulation and the right to health.

Ratifying the convention is one thing, passing the related legislation and enforcing it will be a whole other kettle of fish. The minister knows that words alone are not enough.

(Sampoerna brand photo courtesy MartijnL via Creative Commons)