During my time in Ambon, Indonesia, I was able to observe the prevalence of smoking and the influences which brought about this smoking culture within the city. One aspect which stood out to me was the use of tobacco advertising throughout the city. For my interview, I interviewed Friend T, who hails from Jakarta, on his views on smoking and advertising as a comparison to what I observed in Ambon.
In preliminary questioning, I found that although Friend T himself did not smoke, a number of his family did as well as his best friend. They generally started at a young age, with his best friend starting to smoke after school at age 15, confirming some of the secondary research I had done.
I asked about the frequency in which he saw advertising for cigarettes and he mentioned that it has greatly diminished. He states that he used to be able to see their cigarette advertisements on television and on billboards but observes that advertisements are now mostly seen at large events, such as music festivals and sports, which bring in international brands or artistes. To this observation, I was a little surprised as there are plenty of banners and billboards along the streets of Ambon. Further, he mentions that “[Cigarette companies] compete with each other to bring the best events into Indonesia and are basically the only companies that are big enough to make these kinds of events” suggesting that in Jakarta, these companies have found a more indirect way to advertise their products through association with popular culture. This form of advertising is effective as “attitude towards advertisements is interpreted as a situation bound emotional reaction to the advertisement generated at the time of exposure” (Ramadhani & Hidayat 2009). I found it interesting how the advertising in the remote Ambon was more direct in comparison to capital city of Jakarta.
When asked about his opinion on the effectiveness of advertising, he replied that he was unsure of how to answer as he believed that most Indonesians started to smoke as they saw it as something cool and as a result of peer pressure. Studies have also shown that “peers were the most dominant mediators in the onset (and maintenance) of smoking behaviour” (Smeta et al. 1999). Hence, smoking is becoming a normalcy amongst teenagers. For example, Friend T’s best friend started smoking as he saw his friend’s brother smoke and thought it was a cool thing to do. Although not observed in the interview, I believe that prominence of cigarette companies at popular events has a direct effect on this image of coolness that is associated with smoking. In the same way, the direct advertising I saw in Ambon also gave off a similar image of ‘impressive’ and ‘attractive’ (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2006). Therefore, although the methods are not identical, it appears advertising is prevalent within Indonesia.
Ramadhani, V., Hidayat, A. 2009, ‘Smoking Behaviour Study on Teenagers’, Jurnal Siasat Bisnis, vol. 13, viewed 31 January 2019, <https://journal.uii.ac.id/JSB/article/view/2014/1768>.
Smeta, B., Maesb, L., De Clercqa, L., Haryantic, K., Winarnoc, R.D. 1999, ‘Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control 1999, vol. 8, viewed 31 January 2019, <https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/tobaccocontrol/8/2/186.full.pdf>.
Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health Education Research, vol. 22, viewed 31 January 2019, <https://academic.oup.com/her/article/22/6/794/640787>.