From preparing to visit another country to part-take in a project focused on anti-smoking and researching statistics, I had a somewhat expectation of the wicked problem of tobacco use in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. However, it wasn’t until arriving in the beautiful city and being immersed in the interesting culture and environment, that I came soon to understand that my initial expectation of the tobacco problem was very much underestimated.
Though I was able to visually observe the use of tobacco in Banjarmasin and the extremity of tobacco advertising, it was only through discussing with a university student named Nadira, that I came to understand the smoking culture in Banjarmasin. Born in a small town near the capital city of the Banjar Regency in South Kalimantan; Martapura, Nadira spent the majority of her life witnessing tobacco use in her friends.
Being a part of the youth in Banjarmasin, Nadira has recently witnessed the quick increase of tobacco use amongst her friends. She explained that in Indonesia it is very typical for teenage boys around the age of 14 to 15 to start smoking, and to increase their tobacco use quite frequently till the point where at the age of 20 the majority of her male friends are having two packets of cigarettes a day.
When discussing these extremities, I observed quickly that Nadira automatically associated smokers with being male. Wanting to understand this association, I asked Nadira questions focused on the link between smoking and gender. She explained that as a vastly rough and exaggerated estimation that she believes that 99% of the smokers in Banjarmasin are male. She believes the smoking culture in Banjarmasin is centred on “smoking equalling being manly.” Nadira describes this characteristic of the smoking culture being a leading factor as to why the majority of the male youth start smoking cigarettes.
Nadira discussed, that the majority of the Banjarmasin youth grow up in homes with families of smokers. Young boys would witness potentially their brothers, fathers and grandfathers smoking. And consequently from this, a connection between smoking and manliness has formed and added a social pressure on young teenage boys to start smoking.
Through this discussion with Nadira I was able to understand that the root attraction to begin smoking amongst youth in Banjarmasin typically starts within the family/home environment.
Bevins, V. 2017, Indonesia, where smoking is widespread, just placed tough restrictions on e-cigarettes, The Washington Post, viewed 23 January 2018 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/27/in-heavy-smoking-indonesia-with-its-powerful-tobacco-lobby-e-cigarettes-face-high-hurdles/?utm_term=.6de570a40fa4
Hurt, R. Ebbert, J. Achadi, A. & Croghan, I. 2012, ‘Why do so many Indonesian men smoke?’, Jstor: Where News Meets Its Scholarly Match, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 306-312
Jong, H. 2016, Indonesia on track to world’s highest smoking rates, The Jakarta Post, viewed 23 January 2018 http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/06/01/indonesia-on-track-to-worlds-highest-smoking-rates.html
Ng, N. Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’- Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 794-804
Sulaiman, N. (2018) Primary Research- Interview about Tobacco use with youth in Banjarmasin