It’s Time for Us to Change: Exposure to Cigarette Advertising Among Youth

Every design has a consequences to its surrounding, whether in the forms of political, technical, ideological or social (Stolterman & Lowgren, 2004). As a designer, the impact of our work or design towards the society is our responsibility. Stolterman and Lowgren (2004)  stated that when a designer accepted a job, he or she should be driven by the client wishes, however a professional designer should always stand on their integrity to reconsider other aspects that would impact his or her work. We always have to keep in mind that any designs has direct influence to the growth of its surrounding, where the design takes place or being published to the society.

Nowadays, ethical design has been the trend; many people believe that designers should create with a good cause. Yet, it is still rare to see an ethical design on tobacco products. Like this one, during my trip in Surabaya, I pass through this advertisement boxes which really caught my attention (see figure 1). It did not cross my mind that it was a cigarettes advertisement. There were some youth groups taking pictures with the light boxes, it  is undoubtedly a beautiful installation. They played this enticing  graphic video of the tobacco company’s brand for about 30 seconds and then the warning image with this really small pixelated words for about 5 seconds (see figure 2). It was very concerning and upsetting to see, the design is obviously constructed that way.

7ada2852-154e-4831-95e7-3e3ed98f0999figure 1: Light boxes installations for Djarum Cigarette Advertisment in Food Festival, Pakuwon City, Surabaya
079a3cd3-a72b-4cd7-8679-749cf311dc40figure 2: pixelated and tiny health warnings on the end of the ads.

In Indonesia, the tobacco industries are generating US$22,688 million in 2018 (Statistica 2018). The unrestricted legislation of tobacco advertisement are playing a huge role of success in Indonesian tobacco industries (Nitcher et al. 2008). Most Indonesian tobacco brands on advertisements are associated with a lifestyle and masculinity (Reynolds 1999).  This strategy is suitable to the youth in Indonesia, where the promotion, advertising and sponsorship of youth activities by cigarette companies is becoming intense. One of the well known cigarette brand, A-mild, has a creative academy which gathers creative young Indonesians to join and show their talents in many fields such as photography, musicians, visual art, and others (Go Ahead People n.d). Looking at Australian alcohol culture and policy; Australia also has an issue about the exposure of alcohol. In 2012, PHAIWA, (2018)stated that 91% of Australian are worried about the alcohol use in the mid of young Australian. Moreover, in 2010 Australian government record that alcohol related harm are costing AU$36 billion a year (Laslett et al. 2011). It is predictable that this issue occurred because of one of the factor that there is a connection between high exposure of alcohol advertisements to drinking behaviour of young people (Anderson et al. 2009). To tackle this problem, Australia alcohol beverage industries agreed to make a self- regulation organization called ABAC(The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code), to make sure that the advertisements are appropriate for the young people (William et al. 2016).

With both industries cause problems on the way they advertise, the future designers have to see this as a challenge where their design should be appropriate to the social environment. It is good to always look back to what already happened or being done from those tobacco company, like the light boxes examples, and try to take over the generations for healthier future.



  • Anderson, P., de Bruijn, A., Angus, K., Gordon, R. and Hastings, G. 2009,’ Impact of Alcohol Advertising and Media Exposure on Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies’, Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44(3), pp.229-243.
  • Go Ahead People n.d., viewed 20 december 2018, <;.
  • Laslett, A., Room, R., Ferris, J., Wilkinson, C., Livingston, M. and Mugavin, J. 2011, Surveying the range and magnitude of alcohol’s harm to others in Australia,Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, Canberra, 106(9), pp.1603-1611.
  • Nitcher, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y., Nitcher, M. 2008, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 2, viewed 19 December 2018, <;.
  • Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, Alcohol related harm among young people in Australia, Viewed 20 December 2018, <;
  • Reynolds, C. 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: defining characteristics for success’, Tobacco Control, vol.8(1), pp.85-88,  view20 December 2018,<;.
  • Stolterman, E. & Lowgren, J. 2004, Thoughtful Interaction Design, MIT Press, Cambridge.
  • Statista, 2018, Tobacco Products – Indonesia, U.S, view 20 December 2018,<;.
  • William, P., Ferrell, O., Lukas, B., Schembri, S., Niininen, O. & Cassidy, R. 2016, Marketing principle, 3rd ed, Cengage learning Australia, Victoria.

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