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. 

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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, <;>.

Department of Health, 2018, Smoking prevalence rates, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

Drink wise, 2018, Australian Drinking Habits 2007 vs. 2017, Drink Wise Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

World Health, 2013, Indonesia Drinking, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

Corona Extra Australia, 2013, Sunset Bar, Video Recording, Youtube, viewed 21st December 2018, <;

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