The recent Southeast Asian Games, which this nation hosted admirably, were considered a success on numerous fronts. Not only did Indonesia garner a record number of medals, the entire period was relatively smooth and well-managed.
The games were also notable for another reason: the event was totally free from any form of tobacco advertising. This is a first in Indonesia and the organizers should be applauded for demonstrating that if there is a will there is a way. As a nation, we can cut our reliance on the money generated from cigarette advertising and still have a successful major event.
Now the National Commission on Tobacco Control (KNPT) says it will attempt to get the government to issue a new bylaw banning cigarette advertising at all sporting events held in the nation. It hopes in the future the government will not only ban tobacco advertisements at schools or mosques, but also sporting events.
Given that sports and tobacco are too contradictory to go together, this is a welcome initiative. We cannot link smoking, which is a danger to health, to sports, which promotes a healthy lifestyle.
The government must move quickly to finish the drafting of the Health Law’s implementing regulations so that the legislation can be enforced. The regulation is mandated in Article 116 of the 2009 Health Law passed in October of last year and although the ministry was given a year to issue the regulations, it has so far failed to do so.
This situation is despite the fact that several ministries were involved in the drafting, including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Industry.
There should be no more delays in issuing the regulation. It is totally unacceptable that sporting events are permitted to accept tobacco advertising, which is morally wrong. The government has a duty to protect the country’s youth from the harmful effects of smoking and banning tobacco advertising not just at sporting events but in all public places would be a good start.