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2 Aug, 2013

Bali advised to reject World Tobacco Asia 2014 convention


Denpasar, 2013-08-01, (Bali Daily) – The Bali Tobacco Control Initiative group from Udayana University’s public health department has called on the government to reject the World Tobacco Asia (WTA) conference, slated to be held in Nusa Dua next year.

“The conference in Bali is against our commitment to encourage people to live healthily without cigarettes. We are urging the government to ban the conference from being held in Bali,” program coordinator of Bali Tobacco Control Initiative, Made Kerta Duana, said recently.

World Tobacco Asia is an annual international tobacco conference that offers the tobacco industry a forum to build relationships and demonstrate their products and services to the Indonesian, Asia-Pacific and Australian tobacco communities.

On its official website, it states World Tobacco Asia 2014 will take place at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center from Sept. 24 to 25, 2014. The event will consist of an exhibition, conference and exhibitor business presentations, attracting visitors who are seriously involved in the tobacco industry. It will also have an extensive promotional campaign involving targeted mailings, as well as advertising, in Tobacco Journal International and other media sources.

“Exhibiting at World Tobacco Asia 2014 will be the perfect opportunity for you to give your company the business edge in this highly competitive market by: Discussing your products with your existing clients under the same roof at the same time, gaining new contacts and obtaining new business leads from visitors from your target markets, launching new products, raising awareness of your brand and product portfolio, meeting existing and potential working partners from amongst the other exhibitors,” it states on the website.

Duana said that Bali was now being work hard to enforce its smoke-free policy, as stipulated in Bylaw No. 10/2011 on smoke-free zones. “It would be strange for the Bali government to support the conference,” Duana said.

Enacted in 2011, the Bali smoke-free zone bylaw clears the way to banning smoking across broad swathes of the island. The bylaw states that hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, places of worship, healthcare facilities, schools, playgrounds, traditional and modern markets, transportation terminals, airports, government offices and public transportation are to be smoke-free areas. Advertising and sales of tobacco products have also been banned in these places, except for those regulated by a specific governor regulation. Anyone who smokes or provides cigarettes in the area may face three months’ imprisonment or a fine of Rp 50,000 (US$4.86).

Violation of the bylaw on smoke-free zones, Duana added, was still rampant. Many hotels, hospitals, universities, and even government offices, were still violating the bylaw. “We are struggling to enforce the law. Having World Tobacco Asia held in Bali would be a step back for Bali,” Duana said.

He admitted that the local government had no authority to ban the conference being held here, as the permit was issued by the central government. “But we hope that at least the local government can declare that they do not support the conference,” he added.

A local health survey conducted by Bali Health Agency showed that the prevalence of young smokers in Bali had reached 31 percent in 2010, while in 2007 it was 24.9 percent. Public polling on the smoke-free zone bylaw showed that 93.1 percent of respondents supported the bylaw and 92.7 percent supported the designation of places of worship as no-smoking zones.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the Udayana University’s public health department in 2011 involving 194 respondents found that 34 percent of smokers were aged between 13 and 22 years old. Around 60 percent of these were junior high school students. Around 68 teenagers said their habits derived from one of their family members.