International artists performing at Indonesian tobacco-sponsored rock festival despite protests

(27 September 2010) Tobacco-control advocates from Southeast Asia are concerned that popular international artists will be performing at a tobacco sponsored rock festival in Indonesia this October.  Popular artists from western countries such as Wolfmother (Australia), Smashing Pumpkins (USA) and Stereophonics (UK) will be performing at the Gudang Garang Java Rockin’Land 2010 (, described as the biggest rock festival in Southeast Asia.

This Java Rockin’Land event is sponsored by Gudang Garam, the biggest tobacco manufacturer in Indonesia. Indonesia is the world’s fifth largest cigarette market and produces about 250 billion sticks annually. School children have been are enticed to attend the event through special discounted ticket prices. Mobile ticket boxes have been set up since mid-August offering special prices to students. The tobacco company makes no pretense about its promotions to minors: “Through this grand event, Gudang Garam International attempts to create a closer proximity for the genre’s younger crowds to their idols”.



Music events are no longer sponsored by tobacco companies in Australia, the UK and USA and their artists don’t endorse or promote cigarettes in their own countries. Hence it is sheer double standards that these artists are performing at a tobacco sponsored music event in a developing country like Indonesia. These western countries have taken efforts to protect their children and public from tobacco advertising and exposure to cigarette smoke, hence these artists should not endorse tobacco-sponsored events attended by children and young people.

In most parts of the world and among practically all the ASEAN-member states, tobacco advertising and sponsorship and promotions during concerts and sporting events are already banned, according to the requirements of the global treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC).

Indonesia has refused to ratify the WHO-FCTC and remains the only Asian country not to do so. Article 13 of the WHO-FCTC specifically secures the commitment of party countries to prohibit all forms of tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships, and from getting involved with music, sports, and other events to which the youth and the poor are especially attracted.

“We hope that Indonesia’s leaders will accede to the WHO-FCTC soon,” said Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, Director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). “Otherwise, they are responsible for subjecting Indonesia’s 230 million people as a prime target for tobacco’s merchants of death. Worse, as the Java Rockin’Land event proves once again, the tobacco industry will utilize every opportunity and avenue to push their addictive poison to Indonesia’s youth.”

This seems to be a recurring issue. In recent times, anti-tobacco advocates sounded the warning to two popular American artists performing in Indonesia at tobacco-sponsored concerts. The concerts of American singers Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson were scuttled only at the last minute, after they were called out by Indonesians and the international public health community, for allowing themselves to be misused as agents of smoking.

It is ridiculous for us to keep ringing the warning bell each time an International super star agrees to perform under a tobacco label in Indonesia,” said Dr. Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor of SEATCA. “Every year it is really surprising to see artists after artist claiming ignorance that they did not know about the tobacco sponsorship. Surely what the artist can and cannot do is stated in the contract. This can easily be fixed in the contract – just reject tobacco sponsorship and stop the double standards.”

SEATCA is a coalition of anti-tobacco advocates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, that works to reduce the smoking epidemic in the Southeast Asia region and implement the global treaty on tobacco control, the WHO- FCTC.

Western bands performing at the Java Rockin’Land 2010 in Indonesia

Australia: Wolfmother, The Vines

USA: The Smashing Pumpkins, MuteMath, Dashboard Confessional

UK: Stereophonics, Arkarna

Canada: Social Code

The Hague: Di-Rect

Norway: Datarock:

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