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Thailand

Southeast Asia: Indonesia lags in curbing tobacco industry interference in policy making

11 Oct, 16 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Indonesia has once again emerged as a clear laggard in curbing tobacco industry interference in policy-making, according to a report ranking countries in the Southeast Asia region based on their level of implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). It is the third annual report on tobacco industry interference prepared by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

Indonesia is the only country whose score increased in both the 2015 and 2016 reports among the seven surveyed in all three years (Brunei, Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Indonesia). Its 2014 score of 78 (the first year of the survey) reflected a very high level of interference, and exceeds the scores of all other countries in any year of the survey. Indonesia’s score has continued to worsen, and stands at 84 in the 2016 report. The maximum possible score is 100; a higher score reflects a greater level of interference.

fig-5-seatca-rankings

Ranking of countries in the Southeast Asia region by tobacco industry interference, as calculated by SEATCA. Source: 2015 ASEAN report on implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dismal result is a stark illustration of why Indonesia, one of only a handful of countries that has not signed the FCTC, is a tobacco control ‘rogue state’. The country achieved worldwide infamy in 2010 when a video of a smoking toddler went viral. The video prompted increased media coverage of the striking absence of effective tobacco control policies and regulation in Indonesia, a situation which tobacco companies have taken full advantage of to saturate the country in cigarette advertising.

The Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) of 15 low and middle income countries with high tobacco use published in 2012 found that Indonesia was among the countries with the highest adult male smoking prevalence at 67%. The lax regulations extend to failure to protect Indonesians from secondhand smoke; the GATS also found that 85% of people who visited restaurants were exposed to tobacco smoked and 82% reported seeing cigarette advertising within the last month – exposure far higher than any other country surveyed. Unsurprisingly, Indonesia’s (male) youth smoking prevalence is among the highest in the world; according to the 2014 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 35% of boys aged 13-15 are current smokers.

At the other end of the scale, the standout countries in the 2016 report were Brunei and the Philippines. Brunei was ranked first for the third year in a row with a score of 29, unchanged from 2014 and 2015. The Philippines has seen a dramatic improvement from a score of 71 in 2014 down to 38 in 2016. Cambodia and Malaysia have also shown consistent improvement from their 2014 scores to be ranked equal fourth at a score of 49 in 2016.

The SEATCA report can be accessed by clicking here. 

Southeast Asia: new tobacco tax index

11 Oct, 15 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

The world’s first tobacco taxation index by a civil society organisation has been published by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). The report monitors implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 6 guidelines on price and tax measures.

Southeast Asia is home to approximately 10% of the world’s 1 billion smokers and is a prime growth market for tobacco companies.

The report can be accessed by clicking this link.

SEATCA report

Southeast Asia: Tobacco Industry Interference Index

1 Oct, 15 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

Tobacco industry interference  in public health policy making continues to be a significant problem in ASEAN countries. This is the main finding of the recent report, Tobacco Industry Interference Index: 2015 ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3, released last month by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). The report found that overall there is only marginal improvement in the implementation of FCTC Article 5.3 in the ASEAN region in 2013 compared to previous years (2010-2012).

Brunei Darussalam continues to deliver the best performance in ensuring its tobacco control policies are not compromised and are strictly implemented. Indonesia, on the other hand, remains at the bottom with the government allowing the tobacco industry to participate fully in the development of policies as well as accommodating its requests in delaying tobacco control measures.

Countries were ranked in the order of their implementation of protective measures, from best to poor, as follows: Brunei, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Although it is a tobacco growing country, and despite the government owning the Thai Tobacco Monopoly, Thailand showed the biggest improvement in protecting public health policies from industry interference. The government does not accept contributions from the tobacco industry and government officials do not endorse or participate in tobacco industry corporate social responsibility initiatives.  There was a slight improvement in efforts undertaken by Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Philippines; however progress remains inadequate agains the grim toll of the tobacco epidemic confronting these countries.

Countries that face high levels of unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, are vulnerable to high levels of tobacco industry meddling in policy development. The Philippines however continues to show leadership in implementing a Civil Service Commission and Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC), which provides a Code of Conduct for all government officials when interacting with the tobacco industry.

“Transparency is important when dealing with the tobacco industry. Many governments do not have a procedure for disclosing their interactions with the industry. This is an important first step to prevent and reduce tobacco industry interference,” said Dr. Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor of SEATCA. “We are dealing with an industry that continues to sell a product that kills. It misleads the public and intimidates governments. Governments need to do better to protect the public’s health.”

The ASEAN region has about 125 million smokers and more than 500,000 tobacco-related deaths a year. The tobacco industry has targeted the ASEAN region, which has a large young population, to grow its profits.

The report, Tobacco Industry Interference Index: 2015 ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3, is available at: http://seatca.org/dmdocuments/TII%20Index%202015_F_11Aug.pdf

 

This artistic ad from Thailand will make you think…and gasp

27 May, 15 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

The opening of this video is intriguing – thick black ink dropping into water, then a paintbrush slowly making a bold black stroke across canvas. The paintbrush has been dipped in what looks like a high quality art paint jar…but it is no ordinary ink. As the ad states, it is the life’s work of a man who spent 50 years to make every drop of it.

Developed by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in collaboration with Chulalongkorn university and Bbdo Proximity Thailand, The Message from the Lungs is the latest creative, and highly effective, ad to reduce smoking in Thailand. According to Thai Health, it has already resulted in a five-fold increase in quit smoking program participation. Watch it below:

https://vimeo.com/126220314

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