Designers provide an ability to contribute positively, negatively or as an agent for change within any context. The parameters influencing them are society, culture and government. A thorough understanding of the stakeholders, product/service and end-user produces effective design solutions that in-turn influence the final outcomes success. Across the world, everything related to tobacco, wether it be the cigarette, packaging or paraphernalia, has been influenced by a designer and Indonesia is no exception to this, actually what they have achieved is rather exceptional.
It would be unjust to hand all the credit to designers. Whilst they play a key role, tobacco’s success to such a high degree is only made possible due to its deeply rooted interdependence in Indonesias socio-cultural, political and economic framework. In order to be an ethical designer, once must consider the determinants that influence tobaccos high prevalence. For Indonesian men, smoking is viewed as a signifier of masculinity (Nawi, 2007), whereas for women, they are a symbol of the new feminist movement (WHO 2012). If one wanted to promote change via methods of design activism, one would understand that to radically eradicate tobacco in Indonesia would be financially devastating to many, a futile solution. The tobacco industry is “a major source of tax revenue for the Indonesian Government” (World Bank, 2001). Although the costs of smoking attributable healthcare expenditures are forecast to cost Indonesia trillions by 2030 (Djutaharta, T. & Vijaya, S., 2003), Tobacco companies within Indonesia provide copious grants and opportunities that far outweigh this. This is evident with examples like Sampoerna University, a University named after a Phillip Morris’ kretek subsidiary cigarette brand. It is widely known that the university offers grants of up to $41,000 US for their top performing students, in addition to various entry-scholarships (The Jakarta Post, 2018).
These practices of promoting cigarettes is in stark contrast to Australia, with a large focus on anti-smoking promotions and campaigns of prevention. In 2006, plain-packaging and graphic warnings in Australia for instance, was a design method implemented for the purpose of the anti-tobacco initiative (The Department of Health, 2018). In Indonesia, the design tactics being used to promote cigarettes and tobacco are transparent. Whereas in Australia design tactics are bing used to render cigarettes and tobacco as unappealing.
Ng, N., Prabandari, Y., Padmawati, R., Okah, F., Haddock, C., Nichter, M., Nichter, M., Muramoto, M., Poston, W., Pyle, S., Mahardinata, N. and Lando, H. 2007, ‘Physician assessment of patient smoking in Indonesia: a public health priority’, Tobacco Control, vol 16, no 3, pp.190-196.
World Health Organization 2012, Tobacco Control in Indonesia, viewed 8 December 2018, <http://www.who.int/tobacco/about/partners/bloomberg/idn/en/>.
Djutaharta, T. & Vijaya, S., 2003, ‘Research on tobacco in Indonesia: an annotated bibliography and review on tobacco use, health effects, economics and control efforts’, HNAP Discussion Paper: Economics of Tobacco Control, No. 10, pp. 1-66.
Indonesia-Investment 2018, Cigarette & Tobacco Industry Indonesia: Rising Pressures in 2018?, viewed 21 December 2018, <https://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/todays-headlines/cigarette-tobacco-industry-indonesia-rising-pressures-in-2018/item8471>
The Department of Health 2018, Smoking Prevalence Rates, viewed 21 December 2018<http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-control-toc~smoking-rates>
Figure 1, cigarettes online store, viewed 21 December 2018, <http://www.cigarettescigs.com>
Figure 2, The Skeptical Cardiologist, viewed 21 December 2018, <https://theskepticalcardiologist.com/2017/10/08/why-doesnt-the-usa-have-graphic-warning-labels-on-cigarette-packs-like-the-netherlands/>
Figure 3, Clove cigarettes online, viewed 21 December 2018, <https://www.clovecigarettesonline.com/products/marlboro-cigarettes/marlboro-filter-black-clove-cigarettes-details>