During our time in Surabaya unravelling the issue of tobacco use, we did extensive research through scholarly articles, news exerts, books etc. which did provide a fantastic intellectual context of the problem in terms of research & stats. Past this research I found that I was lacking information that felt real, like it has a character behind it & existed in the country & city which we were residing in for the next two weeks. To fill the void in my knowledge & interest, we had the opportunity to interview UNAIR students from Surabaya & ask some of the pressing questions we wanted to get real answers for.
Throughout the interview we asked questions surrounding their knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking, what age they learning this, their family smoking situation & also if they would feel confident enough to spread their non—smoking message personally to smokers. Whilst the UNAIR students providing great knowledge for our queries which did help towards informing our design project whilst in Surabaya, one aspect of our interviews that sparked my interest was their opinions on the image of smoking & how this differs between men & woman in Indonesian culture.
According to Tobacco Atlas, it was recorded in 2015 that 76.2% of Indonesian men were daily Tobacco users with only 3.6% of Indonesian women with the same habit. During our time in Surabaya, this became more & more evident with men consistently being noticed smoking whether it be transport workers, store owners, in the markets etc. Men smoke & thats a well known factor of Indonesia as some of our UNAIR students explained saying that their ‘father smokes & always has smoked’ but their ‘mother doesn’t smoke & is angry at dad when he does smoke’. Having these stark differences in gender became more & more apparent, & when asking the UNAIR students about why women don’t smoke they explained that ‘in our culture, if a women smokes she is consider a bad woman’.
This gender biased mentality that Indonesia holds is fascinating, with a Tobacco industry so strong, why aren’t they targeting this mass of the population that they just aren’t hitting? Throughout our trip through Surabaya we experienced so much advertising which projected a strong man, a fit man etc. but very minimal advertising even suggested the idea of a woman taking up smoking? If this culture can instil such a fear of being moral unjust as a tobacco using woman, how can this same fear then be turned on the men & encourage this huge section of the population to stop using tobacco?