Showing posts with label tobacco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tobacco. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2009

Indonesia is the world's smokers : a grim fact

It's a grim fact that nearly half the world's smokers live in just three countries - China, India and Indonesia,, are taking up the habit at a very young age.

In China, one in ten boys aged 14 are smokers, and in Indonesia a third of students report taking their first puff before the age of 10.
In China, one in four boys aged 14 and under are smokers, while in Indonesia, a third of students report taking their first puff before the age of ten. [Reuters]

In China, one in four boys aged 14 and under are smokers, while in Indonesia, a third of students report taking their first puff before the age of ten. [Reuters]
AUDIO from Connect Asia
Dina Kania and Susan Lawrence discuss children smoking in Indonesia and China

Created: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 10:54:34 GMT+0700

Joanna McCarthy

Last Updated: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 10:39:00 +1000

The World Health Organization says the tobacco industry has long targeted young people as so-called "replacement smokers" to take the place of those who quit or die - and as smoking rates decline in the West, it's been setting its sights on the developing world.

Susan Lawrence, head of China programs at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington DC, says the high smoking rates among adults in China make it more attractive to children.

"The message that society sends them is that smoking is normal, that if you're in a public place, you're smoking," she said.

"And there's this sense that what men do. Grown-up men smoke and boys who want to look grown-up, smoke. Women smoking rates in China are still very low, but it's really a male phenomenon for the most part."

Dina Kania, a youth advocate for Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta, says the industry is aggressively targeting young people through sponsorship.

"We have been doing tobacco industry surveillance since 2008 and it is very obvious and evident that they are targeting young people," she said.

"They sponsor music events and we have monitored about 1,350 events sponsored by tobacco industry and most of those events were attended by children and teenagers."

And Susan Lawrence says while there are some advertising restriction in China, the promotions and sponsorships are clearly aimed at the country's youth.

"There are a lot of schools in rural areas which carry tobacco names, tobacco brand names," she said.

"They do promotional events in shopping malls - bringing on very popular break dancing routines or popular singers to entice crowds - and a lot of people in those crowds are kids."

Tax revenue

Dina Kania says Indonesia's government is hesitant to regulate the tobacco industry because of the tax revenue it provides - up to a tenth of all government revenue in the country.

"The myth of the profits made by the tobacco industry, of their contribution to our country, is very strong in our country," she said.

"So that's why the government won't buy our arguments, our tobacco control advocate arguments, because they believe the tobacco industry more than us."

But Susan Lawrence says in China tobacco tax is about 40 per cent of the retail price, compared to the international norm of about 65 per cent of the price.

She says subsidies on the cheaper cigarettes, aimed at the rural markets, are also allowing more children to afford to smoke - and increasing taxes and reducing subsidies would not hurt the poor.

"I think that they actually help the poor in all sorts of ways," she said.

"The poor are the most price sensitive group out there, so if you raise tobacco taxes, you're going to see an awful lot of those people either quitting smoking or sharply reducing their consumption of cigarettes. And that helps because not only does it help with household incomes...but it also helps reduce tobacco-related illness.

"And tobacco-related illness in China can send people rapidly into serious poverty because there's no social safety net, really, to cover medical, big medical prices."

Parental responsibility

The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2003, sets out measures for countries to protect against the dangers of tobacco, including limits on taxation, government policies, advertising and distribution.

There are 164 parties to the convention, including China, who ratified the agreement in 2005, and Susan Lawrence says the Chinese needs to live up to its commitments.

"I just think it's awfully hard for parents, when the signals that society is sending is that smoking is normal and that in fact, in China, that to be a real man, you have to smoke," she said.

"I think government really needs to play a role in taking on those messages."

Indonesia has so far not signed up to the framework - the only South-East Asian WHO member not involved - but Dina Kania says without the government's help, the issue of smoking has grown too big for parents to deal with.

"As parents, of course, they do have the responsibility to prevent the children from smoking," she said.

"But we should bear in mind that smoking can no longer be perceived as a private issue. I mean, it has become an epidemic and there is a matter of public health and there's this giant tobacco industry that is selling and promotes its product aggressively to young people.

"Efforts done by parents, it's so insufficient."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

anti-smoking social marketing and new smoking cessation services

Government tipped to ban tobacco displays in shops |
THE State Government is expected to ban cigarette retail displays in its Tobacco Control Strategy, due for release today.

A discussion paper released in August revealed the Government was wondering whether to completely ban tobacco retail displays, or restrict them to one square metre.

Under a total ban, no cigarette packets would be allowed to be visible inside or from outside a shop.

They would have to be covered or moved under the counter, though retailers would be allowed to display a price board.

Health insiders yesterday predicted the Government would choose this option, following a similar law enacted last month in NSW. However, a Government spokesman declined to comment yesterday.

Cigarettes are sold at about 11,000 retail outlets in Victoria, which would be given time to redesign their point-of-sale displays before the law came into force.

In NSW, big outlets were to be allowed six months, and smaller shops a year.

Specialist tobacconists were likely to be exempt from the rules.

The strategy also includes extra money for programs to tackle Victoria's alarmingly high indigenous smoking rates, as reported by The Age two weeks ago.

It is expected to ban smoking in government school grounds and in cars carrying children, and may extend the ban to smoking in a car containing anyone under the age of 18.

Temporary tobacco stands at major events such as the Big Day Out will also be outlawed.

The strategy is part of the Government's Cancer Action Plan, released last week.

The plan said the tobacco strategy would include "anti-smoking social marketing and new smoking cessation services", including support for pregnant smokers who wanted to quit.