Separating Badminton from Tobacco Dipublikasikan 05.20, 21/09/2019 • Laila Afifa
Badminton auditions organized by tobacco producer triggered nationwide controversy. The government has to enforce the law.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The polemic over the badminton auditions shows the negligence of the government in reconciling two noble aims: promoting sport and protecting children from the dangers of smoking. When promoting badminton, these two interests can be at odds if the central or regional governments are not prepared. The ministry of youth affairs and sports only intervened after strong words were exchanged between the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) and the Djarum Badminton Association (PB Djarum). Government mediation eventually resulted in an agreement. PB Djarum, which planned to halt the audition program, finally said it would continue to support badminton in the future.

The club owned by cigarette manufacturer Djarum has also agreed to meet the request of the KPAI, namely not to use its logo, name or product brand image in the badminton audition program. Meanwhile, the KPAI has agreed to withdraw its letter dated July 29, 2019, requesting that the Djarum auditions be halted.

The government clearly has an interest in promoting badminton, a sport that is always a mainstay for Indonesia. This aim is in line with the wishes of PB Djarum, which has experience in producing skilled badminton players.

In the past, the club has produced top players such as Liem Swie King. And the majority of players who recaptured the Thomas Cup from China in 1984 came from this club. PB Djarum auditions in 2006 resulted in winners such as the doubles specialists Mohammad Ahsan, Tontowi Ahmad, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

But the government should not simply ignore the endeavors to control the distribution of tobacco products and to protect children. Research by the Health Ministry clearly shows the prevalence of smoking among young people has increased from 7.2 percent in 2013 to 9.1 percent last year.

The government has issued strict regulations on activities sponsored by tobacco producers. Logos and product brand images are banned from programs involving the public that are covered by the media, such as badminton auditions. This ban is included in Government Regulation No. 109/2012 on the control of tobacco. It also applies to corporate social responsibility programs by cigarette companies.

It is this that the KPAI has questioned. The organization takes the view that badminton auditions are a form of exploitation of children for the interests of cigarette producers. The Child Protection Law bans allowing children to become victims of abuse or distribution of products containing addictive substances.

Djarum should know about this regulation. Although the company has done much to promote badminton, it should not have been so easily offended and gone into a sulk after the KPAI protest. The role of this company from central Java is still needed in the development of badminton.

Meanwhile, the KPAI was not blameless either. The body should have asked the government to issue a regulation rather than sending a letter directly to PB Djarum. It was this overzealous move by the KPAI that led to unnecessary controversy, especially since the government did not act decisively.

It is clearly important to promote sport. The same is true for protecting children from the dangers of smoking. The government should not leave the public in an uncertain position between these two interests.

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