Clarkson Regrets Tobacco ‘Mishap’ But Jakarta Show Goes On

The Bali Times, AFP

American singer Kelly Clarkson said on Thursday she was not aware her Indonesian concert was sponsored by a tobacco company and refused to cancel the show despite appeals from anti-smoking groups.

In a statement on her blog headlined “Jakarta mishap,” the former American Idol winner said she was being “used as some kind of political pawn” and rejected criticism she was promoting smoking to her young fans.

“So … my morning began with finding out that I am all over billboards, TV ads and other media formats alongside a tobacco company who unbeknownst to me is sponsoring my Jakarta date on my current tour,” she wrote.

“I was not made aware of this and am in no way an advocate or an ambassador for youth smoking. I’m not even a smoker, nor have I ever been.”

She said her “only option” was cancel the show, but she could not justify “penalising my fans for someone else’s oversight.”

“This is a lose-lose situation for me and I am not happy about it but the damage has been done and I refuse to cancel on my fans,” she said.

“I think the hardest part of situations like this is getting personally attacked for something I was completely unaware of and being used as some kind of political pawn.”

The pop singer, whose face has appeared on billboards and television ads beneath a prominent logo for a local cigarette brand, will perform in the capital on April 29.

The sponsorship has been condemned by the Indonesian National Commission on Child Protection, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and an Indonesian Muslim organisation.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, Indonesia is a booming market for tobacco companies.

Cigarette consumption in the Southeast Asian archipelago of 234 million people soared 47 percent in the 1990s.

Almost 70 percent of men over 20 years of age smoke and regular smoking among boys aged 15 to 19 increased from 36.8 percent in 1997 to 42.6 percent in 2000.

A survey of American advertising executives found that nearly 80 percent believed cigarette advertising made smoking more attractive or socially acceptable to children, according to the WHO.

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