Designers have the ability to position products, services and experiences to gain maximum engagement for its audience. In the success of the tobacco industry, designers have played a large influential role upon the Indonesian population. Masculinity and individuality are predominant themes in cigarette advertisements (Reynolds, 1999). Figure 1 displays a PT Gudang Garam 1995 advertisement with the slogan ‘Kretekeknya lelekai’ which translates to ‘the man’s cigarette’ (PTGudangGaram, 1995). Even in today’s society, 2018 Surabaya, I saw numerous advertisements relaying the same masculinity and individuality message for Surya Pro with the slogan ‘never quit’. These two advertisements, 23 years apart, evidently reveal the large role designers play in the success of the tobacco industry in Indonesia, with 65.4% of men smoking tobacco and women at only 1.8% in comparison (WHO, 2017).
With the large influence designers have, it is not impossible for designs to impact the population in a positive way. This influence can effectively foster for change and activism. However, smoking in Indonesia is heavily embedded in the social, economic and political culture. Numerous tobacco companies are often the sponsors for national sporting events and events such as music festivals. (Achadi, 2005). The relevance of the tobacco industry in Indonesia presents numerous challenges for behaviour change.
The heavy drinking culture of Australia, can be seen as a suitable comparison to the prominent smoking culture in Indonesia. In the Australian media, daily articles can be found relating to alcohol abuse, from glassing attacks to teenage binge drinking (Fitzgerald, 2017). Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announced a $53 million program to address the binge-drinking epidemic in teenage Australians, whilst threatening the raise of taxes on popular drinks. Having a strong Muslim majority, Indonesia is not found to have a large drinking culture however the cultural comparison of the substance-abuse epidemic is relatively evident within these two countries. Effective designers have the power to be agents of change, through design activism, in assisting their country to tackle social challenges that affect their culture. Through the outlet of involving new laws, designing new programs or positive advertisements for the public, can design become ethically influential.
- 2017, How does design affect out lives?, viewed 11 December 2018, <http://medicine-man.net/2017/11/07/how-does-design-effect-our-lives/ >.
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- Achadi, A, et al. The relevance and prospects of advancing tobacco control in Indonesia, Volume 72, Issue 3, June 2005, Pages 333-349.
- Fitzgerald, R. Under the Influence: A History of Alcohol in Australia, HarperCollins Australia, 2017.
- Rakhmat, A, et al. 2018, As the rest of the world quits, Indonesia’s smokers increase, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://www.asiasentinel.com/econ-business/indonesia-smokers-increase/>.
- Who. 2017, Who report on the global tobacco epidemic, viewed 6 December 2018, <https://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/policy/country_profile/idn.pdf>.