Cigarette Ads At Railway Stations Are Big 'No'
Who would have thought that extra revenue from advertising would meet strong opposition?

It happened to state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), which met strong opposition from the Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) for installing neon cigarette advertising boxes at several railway stations in Java.

The YLKI has received complaints from passengers who say cigarette ads have been put up in railway stations since October. YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi said the ads were found in the Central Java stations of Tawang in Semarang, Purwokerto in Banyumas and Solo Balapan in Surakarta.

Neonbox ads were also found in Gubeng Station and Semut Station in Surabaya, East Java, as well as in Tugu Station and Lempuyangan Station in Yogyakarta.

“We are giving KAI two weeks to respond to our demands. Otherwise, we will take legal action against the firm,” Tulus told a press conference on Friday.

According to Tulus, KAI had violated Government Regulation No. 109/2012 on health that stipulates cigarette ads should not be displayed in smoke-free zones.

“Railway stations are smoke-free zones. Since the implementation of the Director Instruction in 2012, smoking has been banned within stations and onboard trains. If any passenger is found smoking onboard, they will have to get off the train. The rules against smoldng were enforced very well at railway stations back then,” Tulus said. “But now, as KAI has allowed cigarette ads to be displayed at stations, we believe enforcement is going backward. It also shows PT KAFs inconsistent attitude toward smoking.”

Tulus said by providing space for cigarette ads at railway stations, KAI had promoted negative behavior to passengers. He also underlined that the display of cigarette ads at railway stations meant that children would be exposed to them, which violated Law No. 35/2014 on child protection.

“Children and teenagers should be kept away from tobacco products and promotion, including at railway stations. The existence of these ads thus violate the Child Protection Law,” he said. “We demand KAI terminate promotional contracts. with tobacco companies,” he said.

Public advocate and head of the Jakarta Residence Forum (FAKTA), Azas Tigor Nainggolan, said KAI could be sued through articles 1365 and 1367 of the law on public responsibility and the ethics code.

“This is our first intervention. We have planned to meet KAFs director to talk about this. If there are no positive outcomes, we will file a lawsuit against them,” he said.

In August, FAKTA filed a lawsuit against CilandakTown Square shopping center in South Jakarta for the poor implementation of smoke-free zones in the mall.

“This is about imposing a deterrent for public space managers, who according to the law have the responsibility to protect consumers from the promotion of cigarettes,” Tigor said. “With this, we hope other malls and transportation hubs realize that they can be sued if they do not implement the law.”

KAI spokesman, Agus Komarudin, said the firm had evaluated the ads last month and had decided to take them down soon.
“We take onboard what the YLKI said in the media. KAI evaluated the cigarette ads at stations last month, and we are monitoring the contract with advertisers. A few days ago we decided to remove all cigarette ads at all stations,” he said.

KAI Surabaya spokesman Gatut Sutiyatmoko said the controversial neon boxes were small and only installed at Gubeng Station’s smoking Srea. “The installations have been approved by the city [Surabaya] administration too,” he said, adding that the neon boxes would be dismantled on Saturday.

Eko Budianto, spokesman of KAI Yogyakarta and Surakarta, denied there were cigarette ads at railway stations in his area. “The neon boxes in Lempuyangan and Tugu stations in Yogyakarta are covered with batik cloth. There are no cigarette ads at the Solo Balapan Station,” he said.

Fuad Baradja from the National Commission on Tobacco Control said cigarette ads worked differently to other product ads. “Other product ads work to introduce brands, not products. Cigarette ads, however, work to recruit new smokers,” he said. “Cigarettes are products that do not need promotion. Once a person tastes a cigarette they become addicted and continue to buy the product,” Fuad said.

“Cigarette ads penetrate our subconsciousness [and tell us] that smoking is cool, and people who smoke are cool gentlemen who are healthy and fun,” he said. “Those images are totally the opposite of the facts because smoking is really bad for your health.”

Article was published in The Jakarta Post, 17 November 2018.

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