Indonesia 'cash cow' for Philip Morris International..

May 4, 2009 - Of South-East Asia's 125 million cigarette smokers some 46 per cent are in Indonesia, the only country in the region that has no legislation banning cigarette advertisements, the South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

SEATCA said Indonesia has become a 'cash cow' for Philip Morris International (PMI), the owner of Indonesia's PT HM Sampoerna Company which last year claimed 30 percent of the Indonesian market and an estimated revenue of 1 billion dollars. 'More profits for Philip Morris means more deaths for us in Asia,' SEATCA Senior Policy Advisor Mary Assunta said. The non-governmental organization (NGO) estimated that PMI spent 220 million dollar on marketing cigarettes in Indonesia in 2007. Over 90 per cent of Indonesia children have seen cigarette advertisements on television, according to SEATCA.

Some 63 per cent of Indonesian men smoke, with an estimated 200,000 dying each year of smoking-related diseases, SEATCA claimed. SEATCA faulted Indonesia for having the weakest anti-smoking legislation in South-East Asia. Indonesia is the only country in South-East Asia except Cambodia that has no bans on cigarette advertising. Cambodia has at least drafted legislation to enforce an ad ban. Indonesia is also the only South-East Asian country that has not signed or ratified WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The Indonesian government has argued that a cigarette advertisement ban might lead to more unemployment in the country.

More on tobacco in Indonesia..

Reference: The cigarette 'cash cow'Telstra BigPond News, 5/4/2009; Indonesia is "cash cow" for cigarette industry, says SEATCA, M&C, 5/4/2009.

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