Sep 29, 2010 at 01:30 PM
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Smashing Pumpkins Takes Heat for Tobacco Sponsorship

International public health advocates are protesting tobacco industry sponsorship of a major rock music festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, next month and calling on the Smashing Pumpkins and other popular bands to pull out unless the tobacco sponsorship is withdrawn. Spearheaded by the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, a slew of global anti-tobacco advocates have penned letters to the bands urging the sponsorship to be called off.

This is the latest in a series of controversies caused by tobacco sponsorship of concerts by music stars in Indonesia. In the past two years, Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys have had tobacco sponsorships of their concerts withdrawn after facing significant public and media pressure.

The Java Rockin'Land festival, billed as "the biggest rock festival in Southeast Asia," is being sponsored and promoted by the tobacco company Gudang Garam. The festival is scheduled for October 8-10 in Jakarta's popular Ancol entertainment complex. U.S. band Smashing Pumpkins is the festival's lead act while other bands scheduled to perform include MUTEMATH and Dashboard Confessional from the U.S., Wolfmother and The Vines from Australia, and Stereophonics from the United Kingdom.

"As long as this event is sponsored by a tobacco company, any band that participates should know that it is helping market cigarettes to children," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "If these bands reject tobacco sponsorship, they can send a powerful message that they care about the health of the world's children and will not allow their name and talent to be used to market deadly tobacco products."

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, the Indonesian National Commission on Child Protection, ASH Wales and Australian advocates have joined together in a letter that demands that the bands withdraw if the tobacco sponsorship isn't eliminated.

Tobacco brand sponsorships of entertainment and sports events have been banned in the United States, Australia and many other countries, but Indonesia has no ban on tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships.