Jakarta-(15 October 2011)-Regional health advocates praised Indonesia’s breakthrough for 100% smoke-free Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), saying it is just fitting for the games to not only be about unity and camaraderie, but also about health and well-being.
Still, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) said during a briefing for Indonesian media on Smoke-free environments, the Indonesian government and the Games organizers should be extra vigilant against the tobacco industry which, it said, “in the past has tried to associate itself with the SEA Games and other sporting events through sponsorships.” SEATCA Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Mary Assunta warned that “the tobacco industry will try to use the games for their benefit, as Indonesia is still not a signatory to the WHO-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control(WHO-FCTC).”
“Tobacco kills. That is why the industry desperately associates itself with sports to distract the public from the truth about smoking,” Dr. Assunta adds. Indonesia and its neighbors in the region must ensure the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta and Palembang are 100% smoke-free, following the tradition of past SEA Games in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Laos.
There has been tremendous political support for the upcoming games recently, where the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a meeting with tobacco control advocates, stated during a cabinet meeting, there will be no tobacco sponsorship during the upcoming games, slated for 11-20 November of this year, in the Capital, Jakarta and in Palembang, South Sumatra. The President also agrees with 100% smoke-free areas, and had directed all governors to enact smoke-free laws without designated smoking rooms. Sports and Youth Minister Andi Malarangeng also said that the “SEA games must be free from all tobacco sponsorship.”
The Indonesian government has declared that stronger regulations will be put in place before the year’s end, hopefully moving the country closer to ratifying the WHO-FCTC.
The WHO-FCTC is a global treaty that outlines key interventions for governments to curb tobacco use. Among signatory parties’ commitments is to ban the advertising of tobacco products in mass media, and to rid sports and other youth-oriented events of tobacco promotion.
According to the WHO, approximately 300,000 Indonesians die each year from smoking-related illnesses, and based on the 2007 Basic Health Survey, 85.4% of Indonesian families are exposed to Second-hand-smoke (SHS).
SEATCA is hopeful that with civil societies, governments and the public’s cooperation, there can be greater hope and progress in the promotion of smoke-free environments, not only during the SEA Games but across Indonesia in the coming months. (ENDS)