Java Rockin’ Land VS Anti-Smoking Campaign

For any concert freaks, the upcoming 2011 Java Rockin’ Land (JRL) with line-ups such as 30 Seconds To Mars, Good Charlotte, The Cranberries, and other international (and local) artists would surely be hard to miss. But despite to us being anxious about it, an online petition has been made, which asks musicians to reconsider playing at JRL, because the event is being sponsored by one of Indonesia’s biggest tobacco company: Gudang Garam.

“.. by performing at a tobacco-sponsored festival in Indonesia they will be helping to sell cigarettes to young people – a product that leads to death, disability and hardship, in addition to causing environmental damage.”

According to the online petition, artists such as Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, and Alicia Keys have successfully requested Indonesian promoters to removed tobacco advertising and sponsorship from their concert. And now they want those JRL line-ups to do the same.

Google Images

Music events will attract plenty of young individuals, and sponsorship from a tobacco company was believed as part of a massive marketing strategy to create more and younger smokers. This is going against WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (where Indonesia is one of the few countries who haven’t signed it yet). Some artists such as 30 Seconds To Mars is also known for their concern towards social causes such as earthquake relief, etc. Hence, playing in a tobacco-sponsored event will be considered a deviation.

How about that? The dream to enjoy a concert with international artists is about to fall to pieces, due to some anti-smoking petition.

I respect the movement, I support the government’s rule to prohibit smoking in public places, and I think we should learn from Japan and some European countries who put a lot of taxes on their tobacco products, along with horrific images on the cigarette package.

But this is Indonesia, a country on which more than 30 percent of its people are heavy smokers. If the petition thinks that artists who played in JRL will help selling cigarettes to us, well, I think they’re WRONG.

Those companies don’t need anyone to help them selling those packs of cigarette, because they already have loyal consumers. Cigarette price in Indonesia is relatively cheap, and it comes in good packaging (and by good I mean it doesn’t have any terrifying images of tobacco-related diseases). So despite my respect for the anti-smoking petition, I also think their effort will be useless.

Sponsoring a music event is just one of the regular strategy used by tobacco companies in Indonesia. In fact, they are often engaged in more ‘socially responsible’ strategies such as creating foundations, hosting international sport events, and provide scholarships. So despite their products which have killed hundreds of thousands Indonesian people every year, they are also doing some good things, and like it or not, created a lot of job opportunities.

So who’s bad and who’s good? I absolutely have no idea.

In the end, to my personal opinion, if the international petition make its way to those artists and canceled their performance on JRL, we in Indonesia can only learn to accept the bitter facts that not only we have failed to watch the live performances of our favorite artists, we are still going to be in the third place in the world, after China and India, as the country whose people have fallen deeply in love with the habit of smoking cigarettes.

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