Grammy Award winner and all round good-girl Alicia Keys has apologised to fans after discovering her forthcoming concert in Indonesia was part-sponsored by a cigarette manufacturer.
The logo and slogans of A Mild cigarettes, produced by a Philip Morris affiliate, featured prominently in promotional materials for the concert. That was, until Alicia got a call from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids, which launched her into action faster than Paris Hilton off the celebrity wagon.
The Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids urged her via an open letter to her record company to pick the kids over the cancer sticks, which she did.
"Approximately 35 percent of the population smokes, and an estimated 200,000 deaths per year in Indonesia are caused by tobacco-related illness," Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in its letter to the New York-born singer, which can be seen on www.tobaccofreekids.org/aliciakeys. The group said it was particularly concerned because "an estimated 78 percent of current Indonesian smokers started before the age of 19".
And turns out, she was none the wiser that the cigarette giant was sponsoring the show. Alicia released a statement justifying her decision which said, "I apologise for any misleading advertising initially associated with the show. I am an unyielding advocate for the well-being of children around the world and do not condone or endorse smoking. I look forward to bringing my music and message to my wonderful fans in Jakarta."
"Whether tobacco sponsorship of music events leads to youth smoking is a matter of serious debate," Phillip Morris said in a statement. "Having considered the facts in this specific instance, we have decided to withdraw all branding associated with this concert."
The $8-billion tobacco industry also plays an important economic role in Indonesia, with tax on cigarettes accounting for about 10 percent of government income in the past, while the sector provides millions of jobs. Subsequently, more than 30 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people smoke, making it the fifth-largest tobacco market in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. Cigarettes in Indonesia are among the cheapest globally, priced at around $1 a pack.
The Grammy Award-winning American singer is due to perform in the Indonesian capital Jakarta later on Thursday as part of her "As I Am" world tour, promoting her chart-topping album of the same title.
Philip Morris agreed to tear down all their posters for that particular show and hopefully Alicia's forthright actions will have an impact on the Indonesian audience. Smoke it to em, Keys!
Copyright : MTV Australia