Next month Indonesia will host Java Rockin’ Land, and several American bands, including Good Charlotte, are scheduled to perform at the high profile event. One of the sponsors is cigarette company Gudang Garam, and these sponsorships have been shown to tempt young people to start smoking. As a sponsor, the cigarette company has the right to hand out free promo packs of cigarettes during the festival. Bands from other counties will also be participating, but sponsorship by tobacco companies would not be allowed in their countries or in the United States.
Indonesia is one of the few countries that has not ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Participating countries to the WHO FCTC agree to put tobacco control regulations in place which includes limiting advertising of tobacco products. Over 200,000 people die in Indonesia from smoking each year, and 79% of smokers start before they are 19 years old. This has a devastating effect on the families in this country since most victims are men and they are the breadwinners in the family.
Joel Madden, lead vocalist for Good Charlotte, is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Joel knows financial hardship as his own father abandoned the family when Joel, and his identical brother and bandmate Benji, was 16. In a country, whose breadwinners are dying because of tobacco, why would he agree to perform in a festival sponsored by a cigarette company? As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, why would you promote cigarette smoking by children?
How would you feel if someone handed your children a free pack of cigarettes just to get them started?