Walking along the streets of Ambon, it appears one aspect of Tobacco culture is its association with positive and pleasurable experiences. This ethnographic study was effective because it encourages participation by the researcher, getting involved, seeing what life is like from the point of view of the subject (Coyne 2006).
Locally, I observed (as recorded in ‘Map My Walk Ambon 2019’ below), mostly sedentary smokers – groups of men sitting in alleyways, shopkeepers minding their market stores and drivers both old and young. They appeared to be enjoying it. Perhaps because deep breathing, even when taking in cigarette smoke, can be physiologically relaxing (as is sitting back, socialising, or having a warm drink). These pleasant things get strongly associated with the effect of the cigarette itself (Quit Tasmania 2013).
This could also be said for the association of one’s identity with smoking. The cigarette is a symbol of manhood and conveys messages such as, in the words of the tobacco company Philip Morris, “I am no longer my mother’s child,” and “I am tough” (Jarvis 2004). There was not one street I walked down that I did not see a pro-tobacco advertisement using themes that are likely to be very attractive to young people, such as humour, adventure, bravery and success. (Tjandra 2018). It’s interesting to note that the dominant banner colours, red and white, are the colours of the Indonesian flag. They are considered the sacred colours of the nation as they represent the sacrifice and the struggle of the people striving toward their independence. (Asimonoff 2016). Simply through colour, smoking is now associated with freedom and courage which the people of Ambon could value.
Nationally, the sponsoring and social marketing of music festivals by tobacco companies targets young people to associate smoking with music, creativity, and self-expression. Even though they are 18+ events, Instagram eliminates the boundary exposing the sponsorship to all social media users worldwide. Philip Morris International created an online social networking community for A brand enthusiasts and future customers. At goaheadpeople.id registrants can click on links and find activities where they can learn, meet, create and sell creative products and get involved in projects or challenges (Astuti & Freeman 2018).
It’s evident that Tobacco companies have successfully carried out Craig Lefebvre’s marketing model of scope – co‐creation, conversations, communities and markets; design – honouring people, radiating value, engaging service and enhancing experiences; and value space – dignity, hope, love and trust (Lefebvre 2013), which has resulted in a tobacco empire. In fact, on a global scale, Indonesia is known as the ‘tobacco’s industry Disneyland’ and is the only Asian country that has not signed the ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) (Tjandra 2018).
Strategically, tobacco companies have embedded smoking culture so deeply into society that it has rewired people’s brains to think positively about it and to not even question it. It’s a social norm.
Asimonoff 2016, Colours in Indonesia, Transparent Language, weblog, New Hampshire, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://blogs.transparent.com/indonesian/colors-in-indonesian-culture/>.
Astuti, P. & Freeman, B. 2018, Protecting young Indonesian hearts from tobacco, The Conversation, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://theconversation.com/protecting-young-indonesian-hearts-from-tobacco-97554>.
Astuti, P. & Freeman, B. 2018, Tobacco company in Indonesia skirts regulation, uses music concerts and social media for marketing, The Conversation, 17 January 2019, <https://theconversation.com/tobacco-company-in-indonesia-skirts-regulation-uses-music-concerts-and-social-media-for-marketing-93206>.
Chan, M. 2019, Go Ahead Banner, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Map My Walk Ambon, Sketch, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Men Smoking, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Men Smoking 2, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Pro Never Quit Banner, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Pro We Are Stronger Banner, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Chan, M. 2019, Pro We Are Stronger Poster, photograph, Ambon, Indonesia.
Coyne, R. 2006, Creative practice and design-led research, Research Methods, viewed 17 January 2019,<http://ace.caad.ed.ac.uk/JointGrads/ResearchMethods/resources/triangulation.pdf>.
Jarvis, M. 2004, ‘Why people smoke’, The British Medical Journal, vol 328, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC324461/>.
Lefebvre, C. 2012, ‘Transformative social marketing: co‐creating the social marketing discipline and brand’, Journal of Social Marketing, vol. 2 , no. 2, viewed 17 January <https://doi.org/10.1108/20426761211243955>.
Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://theconversation.com/disneyland-for-big-tobacco-how-indonesias-lax-smoking-laws-are-helping-next-generation-to-get-hooked-97489>.
Quitline. 2013, Stress and Smoking, Quit Tasmania, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://www.quittas.org.au/understanding-your-smoking/stress-and-smoking>.