To gain an unusual perspective into tobacco use and its surrounding health issues, full-time employer of Philip Morris international, Abdul Aziz Purnama Adi (2019, pers. Comm., 14 January), was interviewed. Aziz, as he prefers, distributes tobacco products throughout Indonesia and considers himself a casual smoker. Aziz argues for tobacco, asserting the product is harmless, and all health-issues said to surround cigarettes are merely the act of a conspiracy. Despite his positive views on smoking, further analysis and investigation could reveal several discrepancies in Aziz’s statements.
Aziz outlines tobacco as a form of “good medicine which helps to clear the mind.” He reinforces its positive qualities asserting that he is yet to meet anyone who’s health or wellbeing has been negatively affected by smoking. Although studies reveal “Tobacco kills 225,720 people each year” in Indonesia (World Health Organization 2018). His outlook is heavily influenced by the novel Membunuh Indonesia Konspirasi Global Penghancuran Kretek, Aziz explaining “I do not believe the graphic imagery on cigarette packets” nor that “health issues exist or are a direct cause of smoking full-time. Perhaps his fixed perspective is somewhat due to lack of knowledge, Aziz also mentioning that he does not remember receiving education in school about the impacts of smoking.
Conversely, Aziz recognizes tobaccos potential to be somewhat “harmful.” He explains that smoking ten cigarettes a day is the suitable amount, however, if someone was to consume any greater than this quantity, that is when it can become damaging. With regards to smoking more than ten a day, Aziz believes: “this is when it begins to control you, you become addicted” but cigarettes “are okay when you can control the tobacco, and it’s regulated.” He was quick to reinforce however that “the problem here is not the tobacco itself but the over and uncontrolled usage of it.” While he blatantly disregards tobacco as the cause of any health issues, it is odd that he opposes to smoking around children: “I’ll never smoke around children.” Why must he refrain himself from doing so if cigarettes do not cause any direct harm? Unable to admit the dangerous consequences associated with smoking, Aziz’s employer ironically can, their website promoting smoking as harmful: “We are dedicated to doing something very dramatic – we want to replace cigarettes with smoke-free products as fast as possible… we have more than 400 scientists, engineers, and technicians developing less harmful alternatives to cigarettes” (Philip Morris 2019). And while Aziz could aim to emulate his employer, recognizing the harm and moving towards a smoke-free future, perhaps the Philip Morris company could have the courtesy of completely eradicating themselves.