Smoking and the tobacco industry are heavily ingrained within Indonesian culture and have a significant impact on most of the population. For many of the group this walking tour, led by the esteemed walker Anitha Silvia, was our first introduction to the local culture and tobacco culture within Surabaya. led by the esteemed walker, Anitha Silvia. Initially, we were taken through one of Surabaya’s many streets markets a market filled with a diverse range of people and produce, adjacent to House of Sampoerna. We tasted some local fruit and interacted with our 3 knowledgeable guides. Our next stop was The House of Sampoerna, a tobacco museum and factory of the biggest tobacco company in Indonesia. It was here that the sheer scale of the industry was first realised. Sampoerna Is a company that spans generations and provides the most popular cigarettes in Indonesia. Their traditional cigarettes allow them to corner 33% of the market within Indonesia with revenues of RP 99 trillion in 2017 (GmbH, 2018) This consistent strength reinforces the hold that the company has on the smokers of Indonesia. A hold that would be seen throughout the rest of the tour.
On the remainder of the tour, we visited various sights around northern Surabaya; temples, banks, coffee shops, markets, and public areas. The sights stretched across the three major areas: European, Chinese and Arab Quarter. In our exploration key insights into the nature of tobacco consumption in northern Surabaya where identified. One of these insights being the degree to which smoking is a social activity. Warkop Sarkam, a coffee shop located within the Arab district is a prime example of a location that facilitates the social side of smoking (see figure 1). The shop consisted of older men conversing over cheap coffee and cigarettes making up most of their day. Highlighting that the primary source of social interaction amongst many men revolves around the shared consumption of tobacco products.
Another significant insight made relates to the prevalence of passive and non-passive smoking in the workforce. Once again sights such as Warkop Sarkam and the Pabean Fish Markets, display recurring instances of smoking culture. In the case of stores such as Warkop Sarkam there are no laws in place that specifically protect its workers from the devastating effect of passive smoking. Additionally, in areas such as the Pabean Fish Markets, it not uncommon to see workers smoking freely whilst selling produce and performing various other activities. Once again reiterating the prevalence of smoking in all aspects of Indonesian life.
This tour of northern Surabaya was a dynamic and interesting way of uncovering many of its social nuances. Particularly in relation to the population’s smoking habits/traditions and the role they play in developing the smoking culture that forms a significant portion of Indonesian history.
Houseofsampoerna.museum, 2018, House of Sampoerna, viewed 6 December 2018, <https://houseofsampoerna.museum/>
GmbH, f. 2018, markets.businessinsider.com, viewed 6 December 2018, <https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/king-of-kretek-pt-hm-sampoerna-tbk-announces-results-1022529943>
Image 1: Houseofsampoerna.museum, 2018, House of Sampoerna, viewed 6 December 2018, <https://houseofsampoerna.museum/>
Image 2: Warkop-sarkam.business.site, 2018, viewed 6 December 2018, <https://warkop-sarkam.business.site/>