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>
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/>
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>
Chen, J. 2018, Cigarette Advertisement, Malang