To gain further information on tobacco use in Indonesia, I consulted 25-year-old Abdul Aziz Purnama Adi (2019, pers. comm., 14 January), a full time employee for Philip Morris International distributing tobacco products across Indonesia. This discussion determined how an individual’s surrounding environment significantly influences and manipulates their views on tobacco.
Aziz was first exposed to cigarettes in the home when his mother, father and uncle would smoke around him inside the house. He himself began experimenting with smoking in Junior High School and became a regular smoker in college. This behaviour seems to be considered normal as he stated many other students also smoked, supporting the statistic that “nearly nine out of ten adult daily smokers started smoking before they were 18 years old” (Scott 2018). He claimed he didn’t receive any education on the detrimental impacts and consequences of smoking, however the punishment if caught smoking on school premises was expulsion. He does believe that children should be educated about how to control their use of tobacco.
In addition to Aziz’s home and school environment, he has been exposed to cigarettes through pro-tobacco advertisements saturating Indonesia. These advertisements are detrimental to individuals – especially youth – as they mislead them to believe cigarettes are not harmful to health. Tobacco companies take advantage of this in their advertising (without explicitly saying so) by purposefully target youth as 37% of the Indonesian population (approximately 100 million people) are under the age of 20 (Tjandra 2018). The power of these companies is made evident when Aziz claimed that the “graphic visuals on cigarette packaging is a conspiracy” and the presented health problems are not a result of smoking.
Now as an employee for Philip Morris International – one of the largest tobacco companies globally – Aziz has become a “casual” smoker to calm his mind. He claims the company does not force the employees to smoke, although the majority do. He sees no harm in working for the company and promoting tobacco products as he believes “smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day is a good amount,” which directly correlates and supports the statistic from a recent study that “80% of physicians practicing in Indonesia believed that smoking up to 10 cigarettes a day was not harmful for health” (Haddock et al. 2007).
Abdul Aziz Purnama Adi (left of image).
Haddock, C., Lando, H., Ng, N., Nitcher, M., Mahardinata, N., Muramoto, M., Okah, F., Padmawati, R., Poston, W., Prabandari, Y., Pyle, S. 2007, ‘Physician assessment of patient smoking in Indonesia: a public health priority’, Tobacco Control, vol. 16, no. 3, pp.190-196.
Scott, J.E. 2018, ‘17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health’, Tobacco Induced Diseases, vol. 16, pp. 178, viewed 13 January 2019, <http://www.tobaccoinduceddiseases.org/-8220-Little-Lungs-8221-using-digital-platforms-innovative-creative-and-audience,84281,0,2.html>.
Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, News, The Conversation, Victoria, viewed 9 January 2019, <http://theconversation.com/disneyland-for-big-tobacco-how-indonesias-lax-smoking-laws-are-helping-next-generation-to-get-hooked-97489>.