POST D: Tobacco Advertising lethal to youth of Ambon

The culture of Tobacco advertising in Ambon is highly confrontational and strategical. Ambon is entrenched with a long history of Tobacco culture dating all the way back to the early 16th century. Ambon is a part of the Eastern Islands of Indonesia also known as the Spice Islands which were sought after by European countries battling the plague with Nutmeg. Ambon and the other Islands were rich with these spices as well as cloves, a main component of today’s cigarettes sold in Indonesia. The data from an initiativecalled the Global Youth Tobacco Survey showed that the percentage of youth in Jakarta that used tobacco products was at 22% in 2000 (The Global Youth Tobacco Survey Collaborative Group 2002). Youth smoking is already an international issue but there is variation among countries. In 2004, 50% of all the billboards in Indonesia were tobacco related (Mimi Nichter et al. 2009). Due to this the chances of it being seen by youth are greater.

Statistics show that the Tobacco Industry has been targeting a new market of youth and men of Indonesia (Mimi Nichter et al. 2009). Ambon city is a very dynamic and dense city where pedestrians share the road space with cars and motorbikes. When you first cross over the bridge and drive deeper into the city you see more and more people. This makes it a great geographical location to expose large crowds to advertisements effectively. Along Jenderal Sudiman street, children in uniforms are journeying to school and tobacco advertisements begin to pop up more frequently. For example, a cigarette billboard on outside a university campus (Fig. 1), a banner hanging low on a street side shop so its visible to children (Fig. 2). This was my experience travelling in and out of the city in public transport and observing all the blatant smoking advertisements in the city.

smoking kid
Figure 1. A child smoking in front of a small shop with a large banner of L.A a cigarette brand hanging lower than the doorway.


Figure 2. A shop outside the University of Pattimura advertising a brand of cigarettes.

There are very little rules restricting the content and warnings on Tobacco advertisements in the country itself because the second largest source of money for the government comes from the Tobacco industry making a top-down approach or tobacco cessation difficult (CATHERINE REYNOLDS 1999).


smoking ad
Figure 3. Pro Mild cigarette brand advertisement on a small store. The advertisement depicts 3 adolescents running and there is the slogan stating “We are stronger”.

Advertising of tobacco can have a serious impact on the number of youth that decide to smoke. Smoking is common among males in Indonesia however this habit usually starts are a younger age because of social pressures and tradition passed down from the male figures in the older generation. Tobacco companies utilised themes of masculinity and individuality with slogans like “We are stronger” shown in fig. 3 emphasise this dangerous thinking. Reducing the cultural leverage advertisements have on youth and smokers in general could decrease the social acceptability of smoking in Indonesia. In addition to that, challenging the visibility of advertisements in Ambon could improve the environment of the city itself.

My map represents my observation of how the frequency of these tobacco advertisements becomes more saturated in areas close to schools and the main road.





CATHERINE REYNOLDS 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”‘, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 85-8.

Mimi Nichter, S Padmawati, M Danardono, N Ng, Y Prabandari & Mark Nichter 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 98-107.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey Collaborative Group 2002, ‘Special Report: Tobacco Use among Youth: A Cross Country Comparison’, Tobacco Control, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 252-270.


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