Banjarmasin is a bustling river city near the lower shores of Kalimantan that balances industrial production and mining with traditional crafts and markets. In such a fluid city, smoking has increasingly become part of the lives of its citizens, particularly the youth, whose smoking rates have dramatically risen in the past ten years. To shed light on the factors influencing this significant spike, Haitami Salamat, a business and marketing major from the University of Lambung Mangkurat agreed to an interview.
After the usual introductions, Haitami informed me that he himself did not smoke, but had several friends and an older brother that do. Smoking is perceived as masculine, and is “for the gentleman” (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). His statement crystallised what had already been seen on the street; older males tended to smoke whilst working, whereas smoking is more social among younger crowds. Females often did not smoke. The interview also illuminated a general disregard of the effects of smoking. Comprehensive understanding of the spheres dictating the function of a social realm far different from one’s own is essential if any responses are to be formulated and executed (Bird, Osland 2005).
Cigarette advertising is prolific in Banjarmasin, much like the rest of Indonesia. Cigarette companies such as Magnum, LA Lights and Djarum, among others, invest heavily into advertising and often sponsor sporting events such as badminton tournaments that youth such as Haitami regularly attend (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). These companies invade public space, defining the things people see when they exist within that space (Madanipour 1999). By embedding their image in public spaces wherein they cannot be avoided, cigarette companies have the power to strongly sway the lifestyle choices made by people in those spaces.
Despite the dominance of these companies, some opposition does stand. Governmental policy has increased in recent years, with advertising banned certain areas of the city. Similarly, packaging must have a message reminding smokers of the ill effects of smoking, and no advertising can be aired on TV before 10pm, according to Haitami, who also indicates that a lack of understanding of the terminology used on anti-smoking programs deters a lot of viewers (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). As smokers are effectively the ruling class, they determine the depth of which they allow anti-smoking information to penetrate (Harvey 2003). It is therefore difficult for Australian students, as a global force, to have a significant impact on a local Indonesian sociocultural sphere.
Haitami and myself after the interview
Bird, A. & Osland, J. 2005, ‘Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration’, International Studies of Management & Organization, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp 115-132
Madanipour, A. 1999, ‘ Why are the design and development of public spaces significant for cities?’ Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 26, pp 879-891
Harvey, D. 2003, ‘The Rights to the City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Vol. 27, Issue 4, pp. 939-41