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October 10, 2014

First National Anti-Tobacco Campaign Will Save Lives of Thousands of Indonesians

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, USA and Jakarta, Indonesia) – World Lung Foundation (WLF) today hailed Indonesia’s first national mass-media anti-tobacco campaign, launched by the Ministry of Health at an event in Jakarta, and congratulated the Government of Indonesia on this significant development in public health policy. The campaign, Panjaitan, has been designed to increase awareness of the real health harms of smoking and features the hard-hitting personal testimony of Manat Hiras Panjaitan, a victim of tobacco. WLF provided financial and technical support for the design and implementation of the campaign.

Broadcast of the campaign is timed to coincide with #30HariTanpaRokok (#30dayswithoutsmoking), a national stop-smoking initiative. The ad will run on Indonesian national television channels, YouTube and in selected cinemas for about four weeks. It features on seven national television channels including ANTV, TRANS TV, Trans7, MNC TV, Metro TV, TV One and Global TV across Indonesia. In addition, the ad will be made available for broadcast on local TV networks.

The campaign rebuts tobacco industry misinformation about the dangers of smoking by showing the hard-hitting testimonial of Manat Hiras Panjaitan, a victim of throat cancer, and is designed to reinforce the impact of one of the graphic pack warnings recently passed in Indonesia. The ad was pre-tested with audiences from age 15 to 40 and was found to be a powerful incentive for non-smokers, including youth, not to smart smoking or for smokers to try to quit.

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Panjaitan’s Story

In Manat Hiras Panjaitan’s moving testimonial, he explains that he started smoking when he was a teenager and went on to smoke about three packs of cigarettes every day. Panjaitan is religious man and community elder, who spoke at community events and sang in his church choir. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and needed urgent surgery just to survive. Today, he can no longer sing or talk at public events, but he is using his remaining voice to make a stand against tobacco.

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive, World Lung Foundation, said: “Panjaitan’s story will be screened in cinemas, on TV and on Youtube – but his words and his experience are real, not a scripted drama. Tragically, his experience is far from rare. Tobacco is one of the leading causes of death and disease in Indonesia. If Panjaitan’s cancer had not been diagnosed and treated in 2010, he would have joined the hundreds of thousands of Indonesians who die from tobacco-related disease every year. The cancer that robbed Panjaitan, his family, his church and his community of his voice could have been prevented if he had been made aware of the real dangers of tobacco use at a younger age, and if tobacco control policies had been in place to persuade him to quit. Today, he wants to spare others from sharing his fate.

“Hard-hitting personal testimonies have proven to be highly successful in helping people to understand the real dangers of tobacco use, encouraging smokers to quit and deterring youth from initiating smoking. We hope Panjaitan’s story achieves those goals. Such a call to action is desperately needed when half of all smokers say they want to quit, but only one in ten say they intend to quit soon,” Baldini continued. “We applaud the Government of Indonesia for putting effort and resource into running this national anti-tobacco mass media campaign. Indonesians need to hear the truth about tobacco – through pack warnings and a concerted public information campaign across multiple media – to counter decades of misinformation and interference from the tobacco industry. We are honoured to work with the Ministry of Health to help effect that change and salute Panjaitan’s bravery in sharing his story.”

Tobacco use in Indonesia

According to The Tobacco Atlas, 20 percent of male and 12 percent of female deaths in Indonesia are due to tobacco. It is estimated that more than 190,000 Indonesians died from tobacco-related illness in 2012. A comprehensive study of Indonesian tobacco use conducted in 2011, called The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) (1), reveals a similarly dire picture.  GATS was conducted by the Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS-Statistics Indonesia), in collaboration with National Institute of Health Research and Development (NIHRD), Ministry of Health (MOH). It estimates that two-thirds (67 percent) of adult males and 2.7 percent of adult females are current smokers. GATS also found that over 85 percent of adults were exposed to tobacco smoke in restaurants, over half were exposed to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces and more than 78 percent of adults were exposed to tobacco smoke at home(2).

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. Research has shown graphic warnings are one of the most effective means to prompt people to quit tobacco. It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R(3) (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption.


(1) GATS is a a global standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) and tracking key tobacco control indicators with nationally representative surveys across countries, including Indonesia
(2) According to GATS Indonesia Fact Sheet 2011
(3) WHO M-P-O-W-E-R Policy Package consists of: Monitor tobacco use & prevention policies, Protect people from tobacco smoke, Offer help to quit tobacco use, Warn about the dangers of tobacco, Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship, Raise taxes on tobacco.

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