Updated in March 2020
Public Health Observer Foundation (YPKP) is a civil society organization founded in 2015 by 3 dentists from the University of Padjadjaran. This foundation is the pioneers behind the relentless pro-vaping campaign in Indonesia by spreading misleading research conclusions to support the campaign. YPKP also actively approaches healthcare professional organizations to support a harm reduction campaign through Indonesia Tar-Free Coalition (KABAR) and formed the Tar and Smoke-Free Movement Coalition (GEBRAK) together with e-cigarette business associations and users in Indonesia such as Indonesian Vapor Entrepreneurs Association (APVI), Indonesian Vapers Association (AVI), and Bali Vaporizers Association (AVB)., YPKP began its massive media campaign on e-cigarettes in 2016, which started with its involvement in the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) in 2016.
Relationship with The Tobacco Industry
There is no hard evidence linking YPKP with the tobacco industry. However, the Indonesia Tar-Free Coalition (KABAR) that founded by this foundation is received funding from PT. HM Sampoerna. When PT. HM Sampoerna informed the media of plans to market its heated tobacco product (IQOS) in Indonesia, YPKP together with KABAR supported heated tobacco brands such as IQOS as they are considered safer and have proven to be successfully helping Japan and United Kingdom Government in reducing the smoking prevalence.,,
Although there is no clear evidence of whether the foundation is funded by the tobacco industry or not. But the involvement of this foundation as the host of international events like the Asia Harm Reduction Forum from 2017 to 2019 raises the question of where the funding came from, because until now there is no available information about the origin of funding. In 2016, a journalist informed the Indonesia Tobacco Industry Monitoring (TIM) team that the foundation has funded several Indonesian journalists to attend the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) in Poland, an event organized by London-based Knowledge Action Change Limited (KAC). GFN is known for its links to the tobacco industry, especially Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT). KAC and the GFN jointly launched a Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Program in 2018, which is sponsored by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, a foundation solely funded by PMI. A publication on GFN is also available on PMI’s website.
Lobbying against Tobacco Control measures
The foundation adopts an ‘academic approach’ in convincing the government to support e-cigarettes by presenting research findings that support their arguments, such as giving the examples of other countries’ success in reducing smoking prevalence. They also conducted own research that draws samples from current smokers, e-smokers, and non-smokers, which found that the oral mucosa of the e-cigarette group and non-smoker group fell within the normal range, and thereby came to the conclusion that tar-free e-cigarettes are safe for consumption. The research findings were used to strengthen the message conveyed to the public that e-cigarettes are safe as they do not contain tar, and framing them as harm reduction.,
Not much information available on YPKPs’ activities except for the promotion of e-cigarettes and harm reduction. This foundation is known to have worked with several NGOs in Asia regions such as Harm Reduction Alliance of the Philippines (HARAP), and Korea Harm Reduction Association under Asia Harm Reduction Forum., YPKP also frequently attends various international forums on harm reduction.,
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