Indonesian government ‘defeated by cigarette industry’

Tobacco companies have largely ignored the deadline for displaying graphic warnings on all cigarette packs sold in Indonesia. The setback is a blow to Indonesia’s anti-smoking campaign and its efforts to lower the smoking rate, currently the highest for male smokers in the world.

Despite being told a year and a half ago, many tobacco companies have not heeded the requirements to cover at least 40 percent of packaging with graphic warnings. The deadline for complying was Tuesday 24th June and campaigners say most companies didn’t make changes.

The National Commission for Child Protection said it found little sign of change in brands being sold in Jakarta and 11 other cities across the country. “This clearly indicates that the cigarette industry has defied Indonesian law,” said commission chair Arist Merdeka Sirait. “The government has been defeated by the cigarette industry.”

Only around 12 percent of the 3,300 tobacco brands owned by 672 companies nationwide have registered the photos they plan to use on their packaging, according to the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency. Manufacturers were given a choice of five images last June.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said companies who missed the deadline will be issued with a warning and continued failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $42,000, and five years in prison.

Indonesia’s largest cigarette supplier, Philip Morris-owned Sampoerna, said it had issued packets with the new warnings on Monday, but needed time to clear its existing stock.

“We believe the government will implement the regulation consistently and fairly, so as to realize a climate of healthy competition among cigarette manufacturers, as well as providing clear information about the impact of smoking on health,” Sampoerna spokesman Tommy Hersyaputera said.

Tobacco controls are particularly contentious in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest producers of cigarettes and a growing market for the industry. Tobacco farmers often hold protests when restrictions are proposed. Indonesia is also one of the few countries which hasn’t joined a World Health Organisation tobacco treaty.

Advertising also runs rife in ways not seen in western countries for years. Billboards, LED displays, and television ads all push cigarettes on Indonesia’s 240 million people. A national survey found 67 percent of males aged of 15 smoke – the highest rate in the world – and 35 percent of the total population regularly smoke, surpassed on only by Russia

Travelers warned to get measles vaccine and A-line Wedding Dresses

treavel-healthAfter the recent measles outbreak in the USA, travelers going abroad this summer are advised to get vaccinated before they travel. There have been a record-number of measles cases in the United States this year, many resulting from unvaccinated travelers visiting places such as Southeast Asia, and Africa and returning home infected with the disease, reports

So far this year, there have been a confirmed 334 measles cases, the highest figure in more than two decades. ‘Homegrown’ measles cases – those originating the US – were eliminated in 2000, and the recent spike is due to unvaccinated travelers visiting areas which have an active measles outbreak.

“This is not the kind of record we want to break, but should be a wake-up call for travelers and for parents to make sure vaccination records are up to date,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.

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Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, the virus infected about 500,000 Americans each year, causing 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. The CDC said 22 of the cases seen the US this year had been brought back from the Philippines, where a large outbreak began in October 2013.

Measles is best prevented by the MMR vaccine, which, when administered correctly, protects patients from measles, mumps and rubella. Ninety percent of cases in the US this year have been among people who have not had the vaccination or are of unknown vaccination status, according to the CDC. Many people who don’t have the vaccine do so due to religious, personal, or philosophical reasons, reports USA Today.

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that’s best prevented with an MMR vaccine,” said Dr. Mark Sannes, chair of infectious disease for the Park Nicollet Travel Clinic. He also noted polio is on the rise in other countries, and 10 places are currently experiencing outbreaks.

Other common disease travelers should consider vaccinations for are hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies. While there is no vaccine at present, malaria is another ongoing risk for visitors to many tropical and subtropical regions. You should ideally see your doctor four to six weeks before you travel for advice on which vaccines you may require. Even if you leave it late, Sannes notes, last-minute appointments should still be available.

Though measles remains officially “eliminated” in the USA – because there have been no sustained homegrown outbreaks in recent years – “this is a reminder that we cannot let our guard down,” Schuchat said.