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October 27, 2017

In Indonesia, Advocates Fight Back Against Big Tobacco’s Lies

By Nathania Faline Sugianto

You can always count on the tobacco industry to find new and innovative ways to deceive people about their deadly products. Whether on television, billboards, the radio, in magazines, merchandise, the big screen or on social media, the industry has long been a leader in finding ways to hook new customers, particularly young people.

This is especially true in countries like Indonesia, where a lack of strong legislation that protects people’s health from tobacco products leaves room for the industry to continue peddling false and deadly information.

Last month, Vital Strategies held a four-day anti-tobacco industry social media advocacy workshop in Bogor, Indonesia. Twenty participants from various organizations and universities around Indonesia joined in to learn how to create effective campaigns to counter the industry’s practices. The workshop was called the #TheyLieWeDie Digital Advocacy Camp, and the campaign focused on the hazards inflicted by the lies and deception of the tobacco industry in Indonesia.

Participants work together in small groups.

Participants were divided into groups, with two focusing on creating materials to support campaigns for smoke free public places, and two more focusing on materials supporting a Tobacco Advertising Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) Ban. Participants were trained to use Vital Strategies’ Breakthrough Model, a process for planning and implementing effective campaigns. They also discussed the advantages and drawbacks of social media campaigns, and how personal testimonials can be a powerful way to deliver important messages about the dangers of using tobacco. We also invited speakers from activist groups working in Indonesia, who shared their experiences and lessons.

Already, the participants have begun putting these lessons into practice, and are translating their campaign plans into real-world action. One participant, from the National Commission on Child Protection, was eager to put her training into practice: “All I can say is that I’m hooked. Let’s be change makers!”

The optimism, determination and dedication of these participants helped the training end with a sense of hope. Ultimately, we want each person who came to our workshop to go back into their communities and start taking action to stop Big Tobacco from conning Indonesians into a fatal, lifelong habit. We look forward to campaigns that push for policy changes that help protect each and every Indonesian.

Participants gather for a group photo at the #TheyLieWeDie social media workshop
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