SEATCA’s letter to Mr Ullrich Sierau, Mayor of the German city-Dortmund: “Please halt the Inter-Tabac Fairs in Indonesia”

Dear Mayor of Dortmund, Mr Ullrich Sierau,

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), a non-government organization working to advance tobacco control in Southeast Asia and our partners in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.  We are writing to express our grave concern that the city of Dortmund is promoting tobacco trade in Indonesia and Asia. We refer to Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH’s Inter-tabac ASIA on 27/28 February 2014 in Bali, Indonesia.

According to the Inter-tabac website, the fair is intended to open the door to the “booming growth market of Asia for companies in the tobacco industry and expand its recognition in Asia’s growing markets.” While the German government is obligated to reduce tobacco use as a party to the WHO FCTC however it is unconscionable that the city of Dortmund, as the sole shareholder of Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH, is doing the opposite by promoting tobacco to vulnerable Asians.

Tobacco consumption in Germany is declining but Dortrmund is targeting the ASEAN region: “Indonesia is booming. The country is now the fourth-largest tobacco market in the world. Among the south-east Asian countries, per capita consumption of cigarettes is highest in Indonesia (1,085 a year), followed by Vietnam (1,001) and the Philippines (858). Exports to the surrounding boom region are increasing every year by as much as 20 percent.”

The poorest Indonesian families spend about 10 percent of their household income on cigarettes. Massive advertising campaigns have led to an increase in smoking prevalence amongst boys aged 13-15 to more than 40%. Incidence of smoking among children in Indonesia has increased dramatically. In 1995 around 71,000 children aged 10 to 14 years old were smokers, while in 2010 it had increased to 426,000.

Additionally, tobacco is grown using child labour in Indonesia and other major tobacco producing countries. The city of Dortmund regards itself a “fair trade city” and has banned commodities produced by abusive child labour from its public procurement. Yet, outside Germany the city Dortmund associates itself with tobacco produced using child labour.

We strongly urge you to halt the Inter-Tabac fairs in Indonesia and Asia. We also urge you to dissociate from the tobacco industry.


Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely yours,