C. Effectiveness of anti-smoking measures

Indonesia is one of the five topmost producers and exporters of cigarettes in the world  (WHO, 2012). It is also the fourth-largest cigarette consuming country. So in what ways have they attempted to enforce anti-smoking measures and how effective have these measures been? How have they actually influenced the smoking epidemic in Indonesia.

I interviewed my cousin, Andrew, 32, who has been smoking for the past 17 years. Initially influenced by friends at the young age of 12, he did not like the initial effects it gave him, such as coughing and dizziness. It was at 15 when the addiction started, it was seen as cool and he dangerously thought he could quit at anytime if he wanted to, and shortly learnt that wasn’t the case. Children and teenagers learn about the health effects of smoking in school, however with so many people in their daily environments smoking, it makes them curious and difficult to take the issue seriously. In Indonesia, 51.3% (14.6 million) adults are exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace and 78.4% (133.3 million) are exposed to tobacco smoke at home (WHO, 2012).

I wanted to investigate the effectiveness of anti-smoking measures that have been made in Indonesia and what people think would actually be effective. Andrew mentioned that the change of plain packaging to graphic images was more of a nuisance than effective. When he first saw the graphic images it did make him think of wanting to quit but instead he would just look for a packet that was plain instead. This reveals that graphic packaging may inform people of the extreme effects of smoking but doesn’t necessarily make them want to quit.

When smoking in public places such as malls were banned, he did smoke less, but it didn’t stop him completely. Even with new laws people tend to ignore the consequences because they know that no-one will truly enforce it upon them, and if they do they will move on to another place where it is allowed. Anti-smoking measures are not likely to move forward in Indonesia until the government strengthens existing laws and develops protocols for enforcing these laws. (Aditama, 2008)

Rather than quitting, Andrew has started smoking a ‘lighter’ brand, Esse, that promotes with descriptive deceptors that since it is ‘light’ it is not as bad as normal cigarettes.  In Indonesia, the labelling restriction has actually reduced the proportion of smokers who agree that ‘light cigarettes are less harmful’ (Henriksen, 2012). Indonesia is still a long way away from solving the tobacco epidemic and should strongly consider work with the World Health Organisation framework on Tobacco Control.



  • World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia. (‎2012)‎. Global adult tobacco survey: Indonesia report 2011. WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia. 2012. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/205137
  • Wilson, L, et al. “Impact of Tobacco Control Interventions on Smoking Initiation, Cessation, and Prevalence: A Systematic Review,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2012, Article ID 961724, 36 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/961724.
  • Aditama, T, et al. Linking Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) Data to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: The Case for Indonesia, Volume 47, Supplement 1, September 2008, Pages S11-S14
  • Henriksen L, Comprehensive tobacco marketing restrictions: promotion, packaging, price and place, Tobacco Control 2012; 21:147-153.


POST C: Riyadh

While in Surabaya we interviewed and spoke to many people, from students to drivers, gathering a range of perspectives to better understand the issue from the ground. These interviews revealed the various nuances that surround the issue. Riyadh, a retail employee working in a high-end chocolate delicatessen, is one of these people that reflected a different attitude to most of the students and individuals I met in Surabaya. Riyadh recently moved from South Sumatra to find work to support himself and family. South Sumatra is known for the low-income levels and the high unemployment rate, with many farming areas within the region (Lisanty & Tokuda 2015). Riyadh says his parents own/run a farm and also a separate local warung nearby. Research into farming in regional Indonesia reveals that the average household total income, from off-farm and on-farm (other than paddy farming), was IDR 3,569,635 a year, which is a daily income of less than $1 (AUD) a day (Suryahadi & Hadiwidjaja 2011). He notes that he was more well off compared to others in the region as he was able to attend school and they had a moderate house closer to the town area. Riyadh says that it is because of his education that he was able to move to Surabaya and have a job, although stating it has been difficult, as he didn’t have a job for a long period of time.

Riyadh is an employee at a chocolate delicatessen. As he packed the pralines that I was buying, he began talking to me and offered his unique lens on the tobacco industry, growing up in a rural town in South Sumatra.

Riyadh’s experiences challenged my preconceived ideas about smoking levels in rural Indonesia. He notes that although many farmers and people in his area choose to smoke, his family does not. His father has always been strict on this and his reasoning for forbidding it upon him was very closely tied to the cost of smoking, and his father always refused the ‘smoking lifestyle’ as he deemed it as ‘unaffordable and unnecessary use of money’.

Studies reveal that on average 72.9% of rural families in Indonesia smoke, with paternal smoking associated with greater household food insecurity (Semba et al. 2011). Riyadh’s father’s choice not to smoke is something that he regards his father highly for, as he is aware of the positive impacts it has had on his life. He reflects on how some of his friends back in South Sumatra, are still living a low quality of life and how he sees himself as fortunate to be able to afford to live in Surabaya. Riyadh reflects hope for the youth of Indonesia, being understanding of the negative impacts of tobacco and unafraid of being called ‘less of a man’ due to his choice not to smoke, ‘I don’t believe in those things. It doesn’t make sense to me that [a] cigarette means you are one thing or not’. Riyadh is one of the few people who I’ve met in Indonesia who is actively aware of the manipulative tactics of tobacco companies, which I think is reflective of the values he was brought up with. He believes that there is more opportunity in the city of Surabaya for him, although being unsure about where he will do next after his retail job.

Reference List:

Lisanty, N., & Tokuda, H. (2015). Comprehending Poverty in Rural Indonesia: An In-depth Look inside Paddy Farmer Household in Marginal Land Area of Banyuasin District, South Sumatra Province. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 3(3), 129-137.

Semba, R.D., M.D., Campbell, A.A., B.S.1, Sun, K., M.S., de Pee, S., PhD, Akhter, N., M.S., Moench-Pfanner, R., Rah, J.H., PhD., Badham, J., M.Sc, Kraemer, K., PhD. & Bloem, M.W., M.D. 2011, “Paternal smoking is associated with greater food insecurity among poor families in rural Indonesia”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 618-23.

Suryahadi, A., & Hadiwidjaja, G. (2011). The role of agriculture in poverty reduction in Indonesia. Jakarta: SMERU Research Institute.

Post C: The Next Generation of Smokers

According to statistics provided by the World Health Organisation on the Indonesia tobacco epidemic, 11.5% of youth under the age of 18 smoke, with female youth smoking more than adult females at 2.4% to 2.1% respectively. (World Health Organisation 2017) With rampant advertising, unfiltered and unenforced tobacco laws along with little effective education on tobacco use; the prevalence of child smokers and smokers in general undoubtedly has the potential to rise. To gain a further insight into the epidemic I interviewed 20-year-old university student Satya D on the impact smoking has had on both his childhood and young adulthood.

A project funded by The Australian-Indonesia centre outlined the impact that cigarette advertising, availability and pricing has potentially influenced smoking in youth. The team that participated in the project found that there was a density of 32.2 cigarette retailers per square kilometres, all but 12 of 379 schools had at least one cigarette retailer within 250m of each school and 989 out of 1000 retailers had indoor cigarette advertisements. (Australian-Indonesia Centre 2018)


Figure 1: A cigarette advertisement in the Rainbow Village in Malang positioned in a shopfront near kids playing.

“I’m not sure but I think I started in the middle of highschool, so I was maybe 16 years old .”

With the accumulated statistic alone, without even considering the multitude of contributing factors such as the prevalence of smoking around schools or the influence of peers is enough to enable us to see the extent at which young children and teens are exposed to smoking. Satya began smoking at the early age of 16, but sadly this isn’t uncommon, nor is it an extreme with a fifth of children between the age of 13 and 15 reported smoking. (Tobacco Atlas 2014)

“I started smoking because of my friends and maybe my environment, my father was a smoker too. Of course it has impacted my life; I know the negative effects of it buy it helps me relieve some stress of college life.”

Alongside advertising, another heavy contributing factor to young smokers in Indonesia is the wide influence that tobacco companies have over youth related activities. Satya mentioned how his environment may have impacted his life, and explained the role in tobacco companies sponsoring and supporting youth events; like sport scholarships provided by tobacco companies and even music festivals supported by these companies who provide a free pack of cigarettes which is covered in the music festival ticket fee.


World Health Organisation 2017, Who report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017, Indonesia, viewed 20 December 2018, <https://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/policy/country_profile/idn.pdf&gt;

Australian-Indonesia Centre 2018, Keeping Cigarettes Out of Small Hands, viewed 20 December 2018, <https://health.australiaindonesiacentre.org/keeping-cigarettes-out-of-small-hands-in-bali/&gt;

Tobacco Atlas 2014, Global Youth Tobacco Survey Indonesia Report 2014, viewed 20 December 2018, <http://www.searo.who.int/tobacco/documents/ino_gyts_report_2014.pdf&gt;


Figure 1:

Chen, J. 2018, Cigarette Advertisement, Malang


The Australian (BEER) Garden of Eden

Over the past two weeks, we explored deep into Surabaya investigating the smoking culture & the power of the wicked tobacco industry taking 21.37% of life every year to tobacco related disease. Whilst in this bustling city full of diverse culture & character, we couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of large, over saturated advertising with the consistent culprit being that of the vast array of tobacco companies. 

Shocked by the utter amount of advertising & how this is still allowed we couldn’t believe our eyes, as by Australian advertising standards this is a commodity of the past. Boasting of our governments strict action & steps towards a healthier smoke free future we soon realised that this advertising phenomenon seemed vaguely similar to the Australian beverage industry advertising & how we dismissed tobacco advertising & replaced it with more beer ads. Creating a false image, narrative or future of the users, it all seemed too similar to the classic VB, Corona, Pure Blonde & Carlton Draught ads that we all watched on tv as a teen that still sticks with us today. 

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 5.28.48 pm.png

Whilst smoking in Indonesia still holds 76.2% of the population as daily smokers, Australia has been dwindling since the anti-tobacco intervention began in 1993 with the population now sitting at only 14.7% being daily tobacco users. Whilst there is this stark difference in these smoking stats, a counter statistic is that in 2010 it was recorded that 2.6% of Indonesians are drinkers, whilst in Australia 63.0% of the population are drinkers. This stark differences are mostly due to the concentration of Muslim culture in Indonesia, but also due to the prominence of Australian drinking culture & the social norms & implications of drinking in Australia. 

It’s well known around the world that Australians love a drink, even in the past month which I spent in Indonesia, when the topic of alcohol came up whilst talking to fellow travellers & locals the term ‘f*cking aussies’ came up in relation to our drinking habits & the way we act whilst under the influence. This idea & prominence of our drinking culture is mirrored in the excessive & almost comical beverage industries advertising much compared to the Indonesian tobacco advertising which is highly saturated & creates a narrative that can be achieved by its users. 

Whilst we can draw similarities between the Indonesian tobacco industry & the Australian beverage industry, one stark difference is how these habits users can obtain said product. Whilst as we saw in Indonesia, the control over the sale tobacco products is hardly restricted as cigarettes are available from small family run business & also can be sold by the cigarette for younger children. Whilst these sales are rather blasé, Australia is rather strict about the sale of alcohol with most bottle shops asking for ID at the entrance or at the point of sale. I believe for Indonesia to progress towards a more smoke free future a small but significant step towards less youth taking up smoking would be to monitor the sale of cigarettes to only reputable businesses & have the age limit be enforced. 

Tobacco Atlas, 2018, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, Inc. and Vital Strategies, viewed 21st December 2018, <https://tobaccoatlas.org/country/indonesia/&gt;>.

Department of Health, 2018, Smoking prevalence rates, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-control-toc~smoking-rates>.

Drink wise, 2018, Australian Drinking Habits 2007 vs. 2017, Drink Wise Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <https://drinkwise.org.au/our-work/australian-drinking-habits-2007-vs-2017/#>.

World Health, 2013, Indonesia Drinking, viewed 21st December 2018, <https://drinkingage.procon.org/sourcefiles/indonesia-drinking-age.pdf>.

Corona Extra Australia, 2013, Sunset Bar, Video Recording, Youtube, viewed 21st December 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlxB9RwWJfs&gt;

Blog Post C: Youth and Gender Smoking – An Interview in Indonesia

Primary research conducted throughout the studio was done primarily with students from ITS and UNAIR university.
These students identified as: Niluh (21), Achmad (20), Intan (21), Ida (21), Ica (21), Dea (21), Sat (20), Nyssa (20), Nat (20).

Smoking-Indonesia.jpgWithin these interviews, the discussion of cultural practices surrounding gender and youth smoking brought forward unexpected insights. The smoking culture within the youth community shows disparities between genders changing their behaviours and practices.

The following results from the interviews were conducted with both men and women.

Despite the early educational warnings surrounding smoking, “around the time of elementary school”, youth continue to smoke. UNAIR students reported that they learnt about the risks between the ages of 6 and 8. “These lessons are learnt in school in science”, showing that for youth in their teenage years (Martini, S et al. 2005) are beginning to smoke.

The particular views the Indonesian people have on women smoking, including the youth population, have misogynistic overtones which can leave them with a bad reputation and personal image. This was discovered when talking to ITS students over the course of the studio and has been reiterated by Nawai Ng et al (Ng, N et al. 2006). Reasons for this stated by the ITS students, related to women smoking, are that women who smoke are bad influences and can be judge or assumed to be a prostitute. Gestures such as offering a cigarette or placing a light in a certain position can be an indication of an offering of one’s body. In the paper ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’, it is stated that “it is inappropriate and not well mannered for women to smoke. ‘Only prostitutes smoke’ (Ng, N et al. 2006). But it is very appropriate for men to smoke”. Because of these views, some women feel the need to rebel against societal views and smoke to prove a point. This in itself is problematic as it is seeing an increased number of young women smoking, according to ITS students.

Contrastingly in a masculine world smoking is seen and advertised as a manly trait. With self-image being a greatly important part of a growing man’s life, this can cripple their confidence if they are isolated for being a non-smoker. With Indonesia’s youth population being more than a third of its entire population (The Conversation, 2018), the rate of young male smoker’s is growing rapidly.

It shows with the existing factors and the heavy burden the growing youth population has to manage such as their economy, the importance and urgency to resolve the tobacco dependency is rising.


Ng, N., Weinehall, L., Öhman, A. 2006, If I dont smoke, Im not a real man Indonesian teenage boys views about smoking, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://academic.oup.com/her/article/22/6/794/640787&gt;


Martini, S., Sulistyowati, M. 2005, The Determinants of Smoking Behaviour among Teenages in East Java Province, Indonesia, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/13781/347660IND0YouthSmoking0HNP0Tobacco032.pdf;sequence=1&gt;
The Conversation, Protecting young Indonesian hearts from tobacco, 7 June 2018, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://theconversation.com/protecting-young-indonesian-hearts-from-tobacco-97554?fbclid=IwAR3HLOHuoKnH0fd3BrpyZIktJkhwVWbTiLKsj_-aTF3rt8Gxt0lOIr88jqk&gt;

Image: Youth Smoking: an un-natural disaster, viewed 19 December 2018, <http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/how-do-we-make-smoking-uncool/&gt;

POST A: An analysis of Problematic Design and ethical incentives

In Indonesia design played a large role in the prevalence of smoking amongst young men through the marketing of aspirational narratives and construction of ‘cooler’ and more manly social identities that primed young boys for smoking later in life (Ng. et al., 2007), in so far that smoking is utilised in the negotiations of social standing amongst men. This was done through advertising campaigns in public space and through various media campaigns (TV, print, etc,), sponsorships and packaging designs. Even today, tobacco companies have increased efforts to market to a new market of women through the use of ‘light’ cigarettes, with feminine ’ packaging, and through a narratives about being ‘with it’ along with feminism and independence based on the target demographic (Hitchman & Fong, 2011).

Australia owns 20% of the worlds electronic gaming machines (Mercer 2018), known colloquially as the pokies. Electronic gaming companies and establishments consider themselves ethical providers through their participation in CSR activities (Yani-de-Soriano, Javed & Yousafzai, 2012) and governments play an active role in gambling regulation in all states of Australia. NSW by far has the highest concentrations of pokie machines, with a loss per capita around 50% higher than the national average.

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 2.08.57 pm.png

Image Above: (Donnison 2015)

Studies have shown that pokies addictions have significant negative effects on the mental and physical well-being of problem gamblers, with one Australian committing suicide a day due to gambling related harm. So why do these companies exist? The government’s reliance on tax revenue and CSR initiatives funded by gambling streams i (Yani-de-Soriano, Javed and Yousafzai, 2012) are often cited as barriers to change in policy in the industry to priorities harm reduction over profit maximisation. Pokie interface and hardware designs are colourful and bright, and utilise various game design and psychological principles to increase dopamine and addiction amongst users.

When designers participate in these sorts of projects that fundamentally impact people’s lives, they do have a share in the responsibility of these outcomes that have clear ethical implications. Yet there are no universal design ethics guidelines or manifestos. Often in business the economics and legalities of decisions are thoroughly scrutinized, but in the past it has been typical for businesses to pay less attention to the ethical implications of such activities as there were no real incentives to do so beyond personal affect. Through events such as the American financial scandals of the early 21st century leading companies into financial distress, organisations have become more aware of the impacts to business these decisions can have (Koumbiadis, 2014). The same can be said for design where tangible benefits and flow on effects of ethics are often held up as justification for decisions that may be more costly in the short term.

How we can incentivise ethics in design is a big issue in the 21st century, and it will be interesting to see what further developments can be made to push an approach that often goes against business and sometimes even Government objectives, as seen in our study of Tobacco in Indonesia and Pokies in Australia.


Donnison, J. 2015, The high cost of Australia’s addiction to ‘pokies’, BBC, viewed December 21 2018, <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-33647401&gt;.

Hitchman, S. & Fong, G. 2011, Gender empowerment and female-to-male smoking prevalence ratios 2018, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, vol 89, no 3, pp. 161 – 240.

Koumbiadis, N. 2014, ‘Morality, ethical awareness and ethical behavior in business: challenges for twenty-first century organizations’,  Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol 10, no 2.

Mercer, P. 2018, Australia’s escalating gambling addiction, BBC News, viewed 21 December 2018, <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-42362194&gt;.

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.

Yani-de-Soriano, M., Javed, U. and Yousafzai, S. 2012, ‘Can an Industry Be Socially Responsible If Its Products Harm Consumers? The Case of Online Gambling’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol 110, no 4, pp.481-497,.

The Perception of Cigarettes

The smell of Japanese cuisine wafts gently through the air before being engulfed in the flustered movements of waiters shuffling systematically around large round tables. Plates clatter and click against frantic discussion and small talk with eagerly pressed elbows firmly placed into a draped crisp white cloth. In the foreground is Admad a 20-year-old ITS industrial design student with a passion for design and activism. I begin my interview by introducing myself and discussing our mutual understanding of CAD and rendering software before beginning my inquiry into the tobacco industries vice-like grip on Indonesia and the perspective held by the Indonesian people.

One of the major concepts which I wanted to explore within this interview was the perspective of tobacco held by modern Indonesia. I specifically wanted to gain an understanding of the role of tobacco companies within Indonesia society in light of contemporary understandings of smokings ill effects and repercussions. From this understanding, I posed the question “Do you believe Tobacco Companies are beneficial for Indonesian society” from this question I entered with a preconceived idea that contemporary Indonesians would perceive tobacco companies as a negative influence. Admad responded, “tobacco companies are good for Indonesia because they provide so much for Indonesians”. This juxtaposed response possed a significant point of interest so I inquired further as to where this belief stemmed. Admad proceeded to inform me that tobacco companies make a significant positive contribution to society through the funding and implementation of community programs a notion reiterated in the quote “money from the cigarette industry is a major source of tax revenue for Indonesian Government” (Adioetomo & Hendratno 2001; Aditama 2002; Yurekli & De Beyer 2000). These community programs included sporting clubs and opportunities with Sampoerna being a noticeable example. Admad also informed me of the educational benefits tobacco companies provide Indonesia students evident within the copious grants and opportunities tobacco companies provide particularly evident within Sampoerna University which offers grants up to $41,000 for its top students (The Jakarta Post 2018). These insights made me re-evaluate my perspective of the tobacco companies particularly in regards to the level of power big tobacco holds over Indonesian society evident within the indirect propaganda utilised throughout Indonesian society.

Sampoerna University
Sampoerna University – 2018

Following our discussion of the benefits tobacco companies provide for modern Indonesia I returned to the interview and inquired into Admad personal understanding of the risks associated with smoking. I began by posing the question “are you aware of what smoking does to the human body?” to which Admad responded, “smoking can make you sick”. Admad response surprised me specifically due to the blanket statement nature of the response which spurred my response “are you aware that smoking can cause cancer among other illnesses”.  Admad rebutted in surprise “really” a notion reiterated in by the world health organisation in the quote “The underestimation of tobacco risks by general populations has a high direct correlation with smoking rates” (WHO 2012). After Ahmad’s response, we began discussing the various risks and illness associated with smoking including emphysema as well as short-term effects including difficulty breathing and a reduced sense of taste. This lack of knowledge in regards to the understanding of smoking piqued my interest specifically due to the prevalence of tobacco education in Indonesia and the plethora of information available online. This insight inspired me to pursue an information-based campaign which highlighted the ill effect of smoking specifically the short-term implications of smoking in the hope these would be more relevant for young people.

Once the food had been placed on our table we halted the discussion. In summary, the discussion provided invaluable insights into the nature of the tobacco industry within Indonesian specifically the perception of Tobacco conglomerates. The interview also provided an insight into the level of understanding possessed by a tertiary student within Indonesia which would prove valuable in the conceptualisation and finalisation of my team’s final solution.


The dichotomy of design

Designers provide a critical agent for change within contemporary society evident within an understanding about the role of the user in an effective design solution as well as the role of prototyping and technical skill in the realisation of conceptualisations. These values allow designs to express ideas and perspectives effectively with stakeholders thereby producing contextually relevant design solutions and marketing campaigns for big tobacco.

One of the major was in which designers have a had a positive impact upon the tobacco industry and thus a negative impact upon the Indonesian people is evident within the notion of branding and packaging within Indonesia. One of the major examples of this phenomena is evident within the utilisation of colour within packaging particularly the utilisation of lighter colours in order to draw false connections between the cigarettes and less negative effects. This notion was reflected in the quote ‘ colours and descriptors are perceived by smokers to communicate health-risk information.’ (Bansal-Travers, 2011). Another example of designers negative impact through the smoking industry is evident within the campaign strategies utilised throughout Indonesia. These campaigns work through an aspirational framework similar to Australian alcohol advertisement with a significant pressure begin placed particularly on young men. These young men formate one of the strongest target groups as reflected in the quote ‘Tobacco advertisements in Indonesia often contain messages that suggest lifestyles of adventure, attractiveness and modernity. These advertisements are popular with young men and these same ads are also very attractive to younger boys. Effectively these ads would desensitize the population, priming them for smoking later in life (Ng et al., 2007).


In comparison to Australian marketing techniques, the notion of drinking as a bonding agent between young people is significantly prevalent within the smoking cultural of Indonesia with young men, in particular, asserting the place of smoking a social tool to add in the formation of friendships. This concept is corroborated within a study the World Health Organisation which suggests “ the position of the young boys as followers’, their social environment seemed to encourage and reinforce smoking to them. Cigarettes enabled the boys to develop social bonds amongst each other, maintain the group’s ‘cool’ identity and avoid social exclusion; These children see tobacco as a way to increase their social status, making it an important element of social life for boys” (Ng 2007).

In summary, designs play an important role within the effectiveness of smoking within Indonesia from both a product to campaigning perspective designers readily utilise their skills to skew and warp the perception of tobacco from a health risk to an Indonesian necessity. This question of ethical indifference allows an understanding of the significant sway a design can provide in the uptake and opinion of a product within the eyes of a consumer.


Bansal-Travers, M., Hammond, D., Smith, P. and Cummings, K. 2011, The Impact of Cigarette Pack Design, Descriptors, and Warning Labels on Risk Perception in the U.S., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol 40, no 6, pp.674-682,.

Marlboro 2014, NEVER SAY MAYBE. BE MARLBORO., viewed 21 December 2018, <http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/can-marlboro-snag-another-generation#52161&gt;.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. and Ohman, A. 2006, ‘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,.

Post C: Small steps for change

Almost all the Indonesian population are stakeholders of the tobacco industry, whether they wish to be or not. They may actively use tobacco products or have never been inclined to, but their decisions within a tobacco saturated environment will inevitably affect the industry as well as themselves. Conducting interviews with resident within Surabaya was one of the most effective methods to understand the perception and attitudes towards tobacco products and to grasp how heavily ingrained they are into everyday Indonesian life.  Most interviews conducted where with students from UNAIR (Airlangga University), these student study public health and are deeply invested in the management and reduction of tobacco culture in Indonesia.

These students had a wealth of knowledge on the culture of tobacco smoking within Indonesia and the key factors that add to this culture.  Many of the students highlighted the fact that there is little formal education about the negative repercussions of smoking, rather they receive information from cigarette packages and ads on the negative side effects.  Never the less the students I spoke to also believed that their decision to not smoke was directly correlated to education within the home and community and within schools. Many of the student parents are against smoking and encourage their children to avoid it.  With a mean age of initiation into daily smoking at 17.6 and a population of 23 million between the ages of 13 – 17 (WHO), highlighting the importance of educational systems in the early intervention of tobacco consumption.

Unair 1Figure 1: Meeting with UNAIR students

The UNAIR students have participate in and run several anti-smoking and awareness campaigns within Surabaya. Perhaps one of their most effective initiatives begin the smoke free communities. The communities have signage asking individuals not to smoke in these areas, additionally motorbike is to be switched off and walked through the area. The idea behind these communities is to develop a safe space for people to live without the impact of tobacco products. Minimising the exposure of youth to tobacco smoke and advertisement is another contributor to the success of the communities. When talking the UNAIR students about tobacco control there was an underlying theme of helplessness due to the Indonesia economic dependency on the tobacco industry as well as the lack of government involvement in helping to reduce consumption. But they remain hopeful as there are signs of change. Particularly when referring to these smoke free communities, as they believe that making small incremental change can have a much larger effect on the perception and participation with tobacco culture.

UNAIRFigure 2: UNAIR students participating in anti-smoking initiative


Apps.who.int, 2018, Viewed 18 Dec 2018, <http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272673/wntd_2018_indonesia_fs.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y>

Inside Indonesia, 2018, Forbidden smoke – Inside Indonesia, Viewed 18 Dec 2018 <https://www.insideindonesia.org/forbidden-smoke>

Smet, B., Maes, L., De Clercq, L., Haryan􀆟, K., & Winarno, R. D. (n.d.). Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia. Viewed 18 Dec 2018 <http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/tobaccocontrol/8/2/186.full.pdf>



POST C: Marriage Norms in Lombok

Romi is a 29 year old Indonesian woman who works in a private villa on Gili Island in Lombok. Her daily routine involves rising at 6am to get holy water for prayer, before showering and beginning work at 7am. Like most people on the island, she takes a break during the midday heat before returning in the afternoon for the second shift of the day. She lives in the staffhouse behind the villa but goes back to Lombok for 2 days every fortnight to stay with family and rest between working stints.


She mentions that her long term plans are to work and then marry in the next couple of years, though she does not have a particular love interest in mind. She says this quite matter of factly. She explained that in her village a lot of women marry at around sixteen, some as young as twelve, something she suggested may be because of a lack of opportunities but also simply because it’s the usual expectation. In Australia it goes without saying that to marry at the age of twelve is taboo and decidedly socially unacceptable, but in Indonesia marriage ages have typically always been low (for women in particular) compared to other asian countries (Jones, 2005). In 2000 the median age country wide for an Indonesian woman to marry rose to 23, but in some ethnic groups the average age is still below 18 (Jones 2001, 2004). This is often seen as being a result of multiple factors, one being the Indonesian focus on the family as a centre of social and economic activity, and uxorilocality (typically Javanese and Sundanese) through to virilocality (Balinese and Batak) as the norms.

While most of us reading would be well versed in the distinctions between ‘law’ and manners, customs, etc., in non-western countries there is not often a clear distinction. What we can see though is that a sense of justice and it’s administration are universal in every society (Prins, 1951). ‘Adat’ law refers to the local customs and ethnicity-based laws still highly relevant in Indonesia today. As an extraordinarily diverse country, Adat laws are also mirrored in the many different Adat systems in use throughout localities within the Archipelago (Buttenheim & Nobles, 2009). Typically in local communities nominated residents are seen as ‘Adat’ experts, to be consulted in such matters if needed. These laws are still a particularly persistent influence on marriage behaviours, despite being a country in the throws of rapid socio-economic development and ‘modernization’. In fact, many scholars note a rise in prevalence of Adat law as perhaps being a reactionary push againt state government efforts to unite Indonesia through central controls at the expense of local customs (Buttenheim & Nobles, 2009). Today Adat laws are seen as legitimate sources of power, and are used in local decision making.  


Interestingly enough, I found out that Romi’s parents were tobacco farmers on mainland Lombok. She used big hand expressions to explain the process of trimming back the plants and then harvesting the leaves. Last year was not a good harvest due to dry weather, though she said in a good year they can make a lot of money. When I asked if she smoked she laughed at me, saying “of course not, it’s bad for your health!”. She also had no particular opinions on Tobacco Industries, plainly saying that they are good because they create work.

In speaking with Romi and other Indonesians from a range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, I would not like to generalise but I can see how social standing has an influence on every facet of behaviour and decision making. From what is considered the norms for marriage, through to having to make harsh decisions that impact health and wellbeing in a trade off with work and money. It’s been a humbling experience, but also one that raises more questions than answers, in a country with such complex local (Adat), state and religious (Islamic) tensions simultaneously shaping the country. I think there is value in knowing that there is much you do not yet understand, and to keep in mind that each locality has its own deeply embedded cultures and complex factors at play. 



Buttenheim, A. & Nobles, J. 2009, ‘Ethnic diversity, traditional norms, and marriage behaviour in Indonesia’, Population Studies, vol 63, no 3, pp. 277 – 294.

Jones, G. 2001, ‘Which Indonesian women marry youngest, and why?’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol 32, no. 1, pp. 67 – 78.

Jones, G. 2004, (Un) tying the Knot: Ideal and Reality in Asian Marriage, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore, pp. 3-58.

Jones, G. 2005, ‘The ‘flight from marriage’ in South- East and East Asia’, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol 36, no 1, pp. 93 – 119.

Prins, J. 1951, ‘Adatlaw and Muslim Religious Law in Modern Indonesia: An Introduction’, Die Welt des Islams, vol 1, no 4, pp. 283 – 300.