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Vital Stories

The Voiceless Speak Out Again – Vital Strategies Launches Mass Media Campaign in Indonesia

By Enirco Aditjondro

For the second year in a row, the Indonesian Ministry of Health (MOH) and Vital Strategies have teamed up to launch the national mass media campaign on the harms of tobacco use.

Last year, the Panjaitan campaign highlighted the dangers of tobacco use to smokers. This time around, the campaign aims to increase awareness of the harms from exposure to second-hand smoke for active and passive smokers, through the story of Ike.

Ike Wijayanti was a kitchen hand at a restaurant in Surabaya, East Java. She worked there for 10 years. During her time, she was constantly surrounded by customers and other workers who smoked. She started coughing continuously just before the restaurant went out of business. When she had herself checked, her doctor diagnosed her with throat cancer. She was just 29 years old at that time.

Ike is now 37. She had her vocal cord removed when she was 32. After losing her ability to speak, Ike has been focusing her full attention to raising her two boys.

The 30-second Ike ad is now being aired across five national TV stations in Indonesia for three weeks. Vital Strategies is also supporting a month long campaign on YouTube and a series of radio ads to support the mass media campaign.

“We became concerned that the number of smokers in Indonesia had increased to a record 53.7 million adults,” explained Dr. Untung Suseno Sutarjo, Secretary General, Ministry of Health, during today’s launch at the Ministry of Health, Jakarta.

“With this ad, we need to show the public the harms of smoking, both for active and passive smokers,” he added.

Dr. Sutarjo took over the helm as the Minister of Health Nila Moeloek is currently at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. He said while the government has passed some smokefree regulations, they are still working hard to enforce them.

“Aside from public places, we’re working with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Education to keep schools free from smoking,” Dr. Sutarjo said.

More than 60 journalists covered the launch, along with attandees that included ministry representatives and tobacco control groups, including the victims alliance.

“I wished we could air more ads like this,” said the Secretary General. “We produce just one, while the industry produces many times more commercials promoting their tobacco products.”

Come September, MOH and Vital Strategies will do it all over again with a third mass media campaign in two years. Congratulations to the Ministry and kudos to all the tobacco control supporters in Indonesia.