Blog D: The Forth largest market in the world!

The five largest cigarette consuming nations are China, Indonesia, Russa, US and Japan. (Tobacco-Free Kids, 2018) Cigarettes manufactured in Indonesia are unique to the sales market being a blend of tobacco and cloves, made from a spice that makes a smooth blend and aroma of cigarette. The city called Bandung, Southwest of Java Indonesia, places second in the tobacco industry of “prevalence’s” of familiarity/acceptance in Southeast Asia.  

Photo: BAT 2014

In the early ’90s, households were spending more money on tobacco then they were in household goods, such as food, clothing, footwear, most importantly, medical and education. In the early ’70s study shows that a population of 49% or males and %5 of females within the Java area show that smoking starts from – 15 years of a younger age, 50% of men doubled to 80% by the ’90s, the rates were likely to increase by another 63% due to the population of smokers being brought up within these areas of young smoking families. (CATHERINE REYNOLDS 1999)

The age standard is stating at 15years of age which is made up of 39.5% In 1985 a Jakarta study found that 49% of boys and 9% of girls aged 10–14 were daily smokers. World Health Organisation. While the legal minimum age for smoking in Indonesia is 18 years old, the industry remains mostly unregulated, particularly in more remote parts of the county. (ABC, Tasha Wibawa, 2019) Among these studies, it shows that smoking was inversely related to education. Those who had completed high school or college training were less likely to smoke. 

Photo: Ranumata Aziz

About 80% of the world’s smokers live in low – middle-income countries. Tobacco in Indonesia’s government is the largest source of revenue it has not only fueled by affordability which plays a crucial role in its economy, In 2018 cigarettes brought 153 trillion rupiah, nearly 96% of the national excise total, Being 10% of the government’s revenue. (ABC, Tasha Wibawa, 2019) 

The Indonesian political cycle has made it difficult to see the long-term effects and economic cost of cigarettes, instead it priorities the yearly economic gains, Mr Ahsan said. 

The highest tax revenue is obtained in Bandung, West Java which is the highest smoking prevalence in Indonesia. While smoking is a leading cause of death in Indonesia, Tobacco consumption can kill more than 7 million people every year; at least 214,00 people die each year in Indonesia, approximately 19% male and &% Male. 

Bandung, Wast Java

Unless effective tobacco control measures are implemented in low- and middle-income countries, the burden of tobacco-related death and disease in those countries will continue to increase (tobaccocontrol, 1995)

Indonesia has introduced a concept on cigarette tax called Earmarking Tax, and this can be a beneficial government tax where the revenue from a particular tax is kept separate from general revenue, Tobacco tax is one of the efforts to control tobacco use. (Robert Carling 2007) The study states it has a favourable impact taxes are used to control tobacco, health promotion and health-related activities. ( Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik, 2019) 

Australia, Brazil, and other countries that have implemented the most advanced tobacco control laws globally are almost entirely offset by the increasing consumption in many countries with weaker tobacco control regulations. The Tobacco Atlas 2019, Drope J, Schluger N, Cahn Z, Drope J, Hamill S, Islami F, Liber A, Nargis N, Stoklosa M. 2018. The Tobacco Atlas. Atlanta: American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies 
The study states 'to reduce worldwide smoking prevalence by 30 per cent in 2025, countries are exhorted to fully implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).' The World Health Organization's first public health treaty calls on countries to implement proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, 100 per cent smoke-free laws, ample, graphic health warnings, and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships. (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance 2016)

World Health Organisation. Tobacco or health: a global status report—Indonesia. Geneva: WHO, 1998. 

Tobacco-Free Kids 2018, THE GLOBAL CIGARETTE INDUSTRY, view online 27 November,

ABC, Tasha Wibawa 2019, Tackling Indonesia’s smoking addiction a ‘double-edged sword, online article, viewed 20 November

Tabacco Control 1995, Prevalence of cigarette smoking in rural area of West Jave, Indonesia, online publication, Viewed on 27 November

Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politi, Volume 23, Issue 1, July 2019 (45-58), The Implementation of Earmarking Tax policy on Cigarette Tax in West Jave Province, Online article, Viewed online 27 November, 

Robert Carling 2007, Tax Earmarking Is It Good Practice? online booklet, viewed on 20 November,

The Tobacco Atlas 2019, Drope J, Schluger N, Cahn Z, Drope J, Hamill S, Islami F, Liber A, Nargis N, Stoklosa M. 2018. The Tobacco Atlas. Atlanta: American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies 

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance 2016, Online article, Viewed on 23 November, 

Click to access 89.full.pdf

Blog D: Smoking – a Culturally Ingrained Habit?

Approximately one third of the world’s population partakes in smoking, with the top 3 countries being China, India and Indonesia. Surveys have shown that 62% of men and 1-3% of women are smokers nationwide (Nichter et al. 2009) and this high number is often the cause of highly aggressive advertisements from tobacco companies targeting Indonesia. The Government of Republic of Indonesia is one of the few countries who have still not sanctioned the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) despite encouragement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) (Sumartono et al. 2011). The government reaps the economic benefits from the selling of cigarettes so there is little incentive for them to discourage tobacco use (Ganiwijaya 1995), thus the lack of tobacco regulation at a national level. Therefore, as a highly diverse country made up of many cultures and subcultures, further research into specific areas is required to tackle the tobacco issues and its stems.

A tobacco cessation initiative called Project QTI has been working on developing messages which denormalise a smoking society. This initiative is concentrated in Java, a politically and economically dominant island of Indonesia containing more than half of the nation’s population. In a cross-sectional study of 15 to 17-year-old students in Java, 55.6% of the male students were current smokers (Skulberg, Hamid & Vaktskjold 2019). The study has found that the probability of active smokers was 7.4 times higher in public rural schools than public schools in town (Skulberg, Hamid & Vaktskjold 2019).

In group discussions conducted with 50 teenage boys in the Purworejo District in Central Java, representing rural villages and urban settlements, the non-smokers perceived there to be few smokers around them, whilst the smokers felt that ‘everybody smokes’ (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2008). Moreover, tobacco was tied into their traditional ceremonies and gifted during such events. They were also smoked during social gatherings – and this is a case of the tobacco industry reading and working with Javanese culture as a means to sell cigarettes.

Untitled_Artwork 42.png
The boys used words such as ‘a steady life’, ‘pleasure’, ‘good taste’, ‘feel so rich’ and ‘impressive’ to describe smoking. Also, depending on the cigarette brand, they felt that they could increase their social status to feel more confident, mature and richer amongst their peers (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2008). This focus on popularity is in contrast to adult males, who often rely on cigarettes to demonstrate responsibility and willpower (Nichter et al. 2009).

Going back to Project QTI, the anti-tobacco intervention, Javanese ideals of strength and moral identity are tapped into, to encourage men to have the strength to part with the harmful habit of smoking. This is most similar to Ramadan, in which one challenges oneself to control desires such as hunger, thirst and sleep. These cases demonstrate the importance of gender-specific intervention when it comes to tobacco regulation. A relatively young population compounded by the high prevalence of smoking among males (Sumartono et al. 2011) provides further reason for Indonesia to avoid economic health care consequences by ratifying the FCTC to implement measures for a smoke-free society as the norm.


Ganiwijaya, T., Sjukrudin, E., De Backer, G., Suhana, D., Brotoprawiro, S. & Sukandar, H. 1995, ‘Prevalence of cigarette smoking in a rural area of West Java, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 4, no. 4.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2008, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’- Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health education research, vol. 22.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18.

Skulberg, K.R., Hamid, S. & Vaktskjold, A. 2019, ‘Smoking Among Adolescent Males at Pulau Weh, Indonesia’, Public Health of Indonesia, vol. 5, no. 3.
Sumartono, W., Sirait, A.M., Holy, M. and Thabrany, H. 2011, ‘Smoking and Socio-Demographic Determinant of Cardiovascular Diseases among Males 45+ Years in Indonesia’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 8.

Post D: Mental Health Implementation

Based on the results done in 2010, Java is the province with higher rates of an active smoker (Barkina, T., Dewi, V. K., Isnaniah. & Kirana, R. 2014). A survey conducted in East Java’s Surabaya – Indonesia’s second largest city, found that there was a significantly higher prevalence of depression in women in comparison to other cities (Byles, J., Christiani, Y., Dugdale, P. & Tavener, M. 2015). Women have turned to smoking as a form of a quiet self-medication, with the odds of a depressed woman being a smoker being twice that of a depressed man (Liew, H.P. & Gardner, S. 2016). In the same research study, the results of Indonesia was compared to the results attained in USA, South Africa, and Glasgow (UK), and it was found that the common aspects to the co-morbidity of depression and smoking is due to lack of strong social support networks caused by stigmas with mental health.

Statistical analysis showed that with better knowledge about mental health, the lower the tendency to have negative attitudes towards mental disorders. This recommends psychoeducational programs through a variety of methods to improve the understanding of mental health and the resources available to treat it (Ariana, A.D., Fardana, N.A., Hartini, N. & Wardana, N.D. 2018). In Surabaya, the highest concentration of Puskesmas (Community Health Centres) are greatly concentrated in the city centre. However, it is found that “current smoking behaviour was more frequent among the poor.” (Byles, J., Christiani, Y., Dugdale, P. & Tavener, M. 2015). 

The support needed for these women and the community as a whole is greatly lacking. Indonesia possesses a Mental Health Law established in 2014, but its implementation is not yet optimal (WHO in Ayuningtyas, D., Maulidya, A.N., Misnaniarti, M. & Rayhani, M. 2018), with the causes being mainly due to limited resources and prevailing stigma against mental health. Although services in the field are increasing with 48 Mental Hospital and Drug Addiction Hospitals established in 26 of 34 provinces, there is still a low priority in the national budget for this area with only 1% dedicated to the cause (WHO in Ayuningtyas, D., Maulidya, A.N., Misnaniarti, M. & Rayhani, M. 2018). Where the mental health is low in exposure, a different industry is thriving with its voice in the community.

Indonesia ranks fifth highest in cigarette consumption, and “is the only country in the region that have not signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” (Barber et al. in Barkina, T., Dewi, V. K., Isnaniah. & Kirana, R. 2014 ). The tobacco industry has begun to feature more young women in cigarette advertisements. With 87% of the female population being Muslim in Surabaya, advertisements are marketing cigarette-use with female independence, portraying “young women in sleeveless tank tops in a country where many women dress modestly and wear hijabs.” (Cohen, J.E., Hardesty, J.J., Kaplan, S., Kennedy, R.D. et. al 2019 p. 42). This has resulted in a steady increase in female smokers in Surabaya since 2012 (Cohen, J.E., Hardesty, J.J., Kaplan, S., Kennedy, R.D. et. al 2019).

The battle now is between the efficacy of public health awareness and the aggressive advertising campaigns of the tobacco industry. With the rates of female smokers rising, it’s important to recognise that more power must be given to the support of mental health programs.


Ariana, A.D., Fardana, N.A., Hartini, N. & Wardana, N.D. 2018, ‘Stigma toward people with mental health problems in Indonesia’, Psychology Research and Behaviour Management, vol. 11, pp. 535-41.

Ayuningtyas, D., Maulidya, A.N., Misnaniarti, M. & Rayhani, M. 2018, ‘Implementation of mental health policies toward Indonesia free restraint’, Policy & Governance Review, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 161-173.

Barkina, T., Dewi, V. K., Isnaniah. & Kirana, R. 2014, ‘ Smoking behavior and attitude towards cigarette warning labels among informal workers in Surabaya city – East Java, Indonesia’, Advances in Life Science and Technology, vol. 21, pp.1-2.

Byles, J., Christiani, Y., Dugdale, P. & Tavener, M. 2015, ‘Socioeconomic related inequality in depression among young and middle-adult women in Indonesia’s major cities’, Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 182, pp. 76-81.

Cohen, J.E., Hardesty, J.J., Kaplan, S., Kennedy, R.D. et. al 2019, ‘Smoking among female daily smokers in Surabaya, Indonesia,’ Public Health, vol. 172, pp.40-42.

Liew, H.P. & Gardner, S. 2016, ‘The interrelationship between smoking and depression in Indonesia’, Health Policy and Technology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 26-31.

POST D: Is the Indonesian tobacco industry killing or giving?

I remember watching ABC News’ ‘Children smoking in Indonesia’ (ABC, 2012) in high school years back. The video depicted Indonesian toddlers in which majority were boys as young as two year olds smoking, sparking high controversy.

‘Children smoking in Indonesia (2012)’ by ABC News
Youtube, 2012, Children smoking in Indonesia, ABC, viewed 26 November 2019,

Local tobacco company, Gudang Garam’s ‘GG Mild brand’ is rumoured to be notorious for targeting the youth in their trendy smoking advertisements (refer to video). They’ve used this to their advantage as cigarettes are accessible to the underage as there are no laws of restriction in buying (GYTYS). Further, tobacco is also sold cheaply at around $1.55USD for a Malboro 20 pack.

‘Iklan GG Mild 2017’
Youtube, 2017, Iklan GG Mild 2017 style of new generation, viewed 26 November 2019,

In 2012, Indonesia was said to have the most male smokers in the world according to the ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’ (GATS, 2012). Almost 72% of Indonesian men over the age of 15 years have smoked and more than half (54.2%) of their male population are daily smokers (WHO, 2019). Tobacco has been intentionally developed to integrate with Indonesian culture through ‘kretek’. Kretek is a clove scented cigarette which is inspired by Indonesian natural herbs and is said to be smoother but more toxic than the average commercial cigarette. Cigarette companies were aware of how Kretek played on Indonesian culture and thus, saw further opportunities with it. These companies invested greatly into marketing strategies, sponsoring national sporting events and even educational scholarships (Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, University of Manchester, 2018). They were successful with using mainstream marketing as a strategy because unlike Australia, Indonesia does not have a cigarette advertising ban. In a GATS survey, 82.5% Indonesians reported seeing a cigarette promotion (GATS, 2012).

Indonesian boys smoking.
Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita, 2018, As the Rest of the World Quits, Indonesia’s Smokers Increase, asia sentinel, viewed 26 November 2019,

Cheap and easy access to cigarettes go hand in hand with Indonesia’s poverty rate. Over ‘30 million’ Indonesians live in poverty and ’43.4 million’ youths are unemployed, West Java having the highest unemployment rate of 60%. When there is no employment, education is neglected which results in the population being un-educated to the consequence of smoking. This can be particularly dangerous in a place like Java as more than half of the nation’s tobacco is produced in East Java (Santi Martíni and Muji Sulistyowati, 2005). Perhaps, Java’s cultural hub Yogyakarta could also play a factoring role in the tobacco market there too as it is known for its island culture. Similarly, Surabaya, a city in East Java known for its organised youth gangs and homelessness could also add to the popularity of tobacco usage.

Hand drawn map of Indonesia highlighting Java island cities by Brandon Siow, 2019.

With tobacco having such a big part of their culture and high unemployment rates, it is no surprise the government sees no interest in promoting tobacco use less as it is profiting for them and employment in the tobacco industry.


Matteo Carlo Alcano, 2014, Youth Gangs and Streets in Surabaya, East Java: Growth, Movement and Places in the Context of Urban Transformations, viewed 25 November 2019,

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita, 2018, As the Rest of the World Quits, Indonesia’s Smokers Increase, asia sentinel, viewed 26 November 2019,

Nathalia Tjandra, 2018, Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, viewed 26 November 2019,

Tobacco free kids, 2012, Survey: Indonesia Has Highest Male Smoking Rate in the World, viewed 23 November 2019,

Santi Martini and Muji Sulistyowati, 2005, The Determinants of Smoking Behavior among Teenagers in East Java Province, Indonesia, viewed 24 November 2019,;sequence=1

WHO, 2019, WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, viewed 24 November 2019,

Youth Hub Indonesia, 2019, Challenge, Emotive, viewed 26 November 2019,

Youtube, 2012, Children smoking in Indonesia, ABC, viewed 26 November 2019,

Youtube, 2017, Iklan GG Mild 2017 style of new generation, viewed 26 November 2019,

POST D: Youth advertising in Yogyakarta

Advertising is the key to selling any product and the indonesia tobacco industry is no exception, a range of mediums are used over the archipelago in an effort to coerce consumers into purchasing a product. Kedaulatan Rakyat is a daily newspaper publication based in Yogyakarta with a circulation of 125,000 copies split between print and digital form. Dyna Herlina Suwarto Nurhidayati Kusumaningtyas analysed and conducted research deconstructing the advertising and the messages appearing in the publication.. This research was produced in an effort to aid efforts in counter cigarette advertising. It’s important to note that tobacco companies in Indonesia do not compete in price per unit but rather but rather rely on a bombardment of emotional advertising.

It found that 45% of advertisements depicted models and of these the majority were middle class Javanese males, the main approach used by companies was transformational advertising – consuming the product will result in a positive increase of physiological characteristics (Christopher, 1984). Young people ages 10-19 in Yogyakarta make up a massive 17.6% of the population, many of whom are at risk from these advertisements. But this is not just specific to the region, rather occurs all over the archipelago.

Yayi Suryo Prabandari and Arika Dewi’s cross section in youth cigarette advertising found that “cigarette advertising and promotional messages are targeted at youths”. Leading me to believe that youth advertising is a crucial way to create customers for tobacco. But this is not just in Yogyakarta; “In Jakarta. 99.7 % of teenagers see cigarette ads on television; 86.7% of all teenagers see cigarette advertising in outdoor media space; 76.2 % of all teenagers see cigarette ads in newspapers and magazines and 81% of teenagers have attended events sponsored cigarettes” (Kusumaningtyas, 2015) . 

So the youth are heavily targeted in this advertising, this led me to investigate an example of one of these billboards that are heavily discussed in my research. This Advertisement was seen in Jakarta in 2012 by blogger Luke Regler and depicts a prominent english footballer Rio Ferdinand. Sports team sponsorship is a critical way for companies to engage a young audience.

Rio Ferdinand promoting Gudang Garam Tobacco in Jakarta

Sebayang, S., Rosemary, R., Widiatmoko, D., Mohamad, K. and Trisnantoro, L. 2012, Better to die than to leave a friend behind: industry strategy to reach the young, Tobacco Control 2012, pp.370-372, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Rus’an Nasrudin & Ledi Trialdi & Djoni Hartono & Abdillah Ahsan, 2013. “Tobacco Economic of Indonesia: Poor Households’ Spending Pattern, Tax Regressivity and Economic Wide Impact of Cigarette Excise Tax Simplification,” Working Papers in Economics and Business 201302, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Indonesia, revised Mar 2013.

Christopher P. Puto and William D. Wells. 1988,”Informational and Transformational Advertising: the Differential Effects of Time”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, eds. Thomas C. Kinnear, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 638-643.

Regler, Luke. 2012. Rio Ferdinand promotes smoking in Indonesia! Personal Blog (WordPress)

Post D: Do not let your children play in the “Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland”.

Indonesia is facing very serious tobacco problem. With a population of 260 million, Indonesia has become the biggest economy in South-East Asia. However, more than 225700 people were killed by tobacco-caused disease every year. And more than 469000 children (10-14 years old) and 64027000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day. (Indonesia – Tobacco Atlas, 2019) What is most striking is the growing prevalence of smoking among children. By age 10, 20% had tried smoking, and by age 13, the figure was closer to 90%. (Tjandra, 2018)

Indonesia or is the only country in Asia that has not signed and ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC). Indonesia is the World’s second largest Tobacco market, tobacco industry has annual sales of more than $21 billion, accounted for 10% of all taxes, It also provides jobs for 2.5 million workers in agriculture and manufacturing. (Tjandra, 2018) There is no doubt that tobacco is a very important industry that supporting Indonesia’s finances, so tobacco companies have significant political and economic influence in Indonesia. This became an important reason for its failure to join FCTC.

And it brings a very serious problem for Indonesia — children smoking. FCTC convention includes: broad ban on tobacco advertising, higher prices and taxes, the printing of health warning labels on tobacco products, and measures to prevent people from accepting passive tobacco in addition to other tobacco control strategies. (World Health Organization, 2019) However, Indonesia is not bound by these provisions. It means in Indonesia, people can see tobacco advertisements everywhere and teenagers can smoke without restraint. This has given Indonesia the ironic nickname——”Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland”. Indonesia is the only country in south-east Asia that allows tobacco advertising. These tobacco companies say they are not targeting for young people who are under the age of 18, and limit their ads to between 9.30pm and 5am to avoid contact with children. (Indonesia Details | Tobacco Control Laws, 2019)

However, teenagers can still easily see those advertisements through many channels, such as roadside shops and restaurants, concerts, sports events and the Internet. Cigarette companies sponsor almost all the country’s concerts and sports events. (Dhumieres, 2019) Those tobacco advertisements deliver very misleading content — smoking means success, charming, courage and popularity. These contents have great appeal to children and teenagers.

Dihan, 6, has cut down to just four cigarettes a day from his usual two packs a day. And his parents are proud. (Clea Broadhurst)

Other reasons for childhood smoking are the prevalence of adult smoking and poor government regulation. Adult attraction has a serious effect on their children. In Indonesian families, parents do not avoid their children when they are smoking, and sometimes they even use cigarettes as a reward. Because cigarettes are very cheap in Indonesia. A pack of 20 Marlboros costs $1.55. In Australia, a pack of regular cigarettes costs about $20. (Tjandra, 2018) The cheap cigarettes became a source of comfort for many families. On the other hand, the government has little control over children’s smoking. Although the government banned the sale of cigarettes to minors, the law was never enforced. Teenagers can easily buy cigarettes and cigarettes from supermarkets. Some cigarette companies even distribute free cigarettes to children and teenagers at sponsored events. Prabandari and Dewi made a survey in some high schools in Yogyakarta. According to their study (2016) found that ‘cigarette advertising and incense messages indeed are targeted at char and their Perception was strongly associated with smoking status. Regulations to ban TAPS in order to prevent sanctions from smoking should be applied rapidly in Indonesia. ‘

As Jakarta Reuters said (2019), Indonesia will raise the minimum price of cigarettes by more than a third from January next year, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday, As part of the government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates. Indonesia still has the lowest cigarette tax in the world. Rising the prices could lead consumers to switch to cheaper cigarette brands, where illegal cigarettes are still easily got in Indonesia. The government must strike a balance between cigarette companies and ordinary people, including promoting health, generating income, employment and supporting local small and medium-sized industries. (Negara, 2019) In this way, the government will not be controlled by cigarette companies and compensate ordinary workers who lose their jobs.

The proliferation of cigarettes is a very terrible phenomenon. Cigarettes are rotting away in Indonesia, so protecting the next generation is the most important problem we need to face. We must avoid our children from the ‘good’ world of cigarettes shows, avoid them from physical and mental destruction which cigarettes caused. We should let our kids have fun at the real Disneyland, not die in the ‘Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland.’

Hand-drawn Map, Bingjie


Dhumieres, M. 2019, The number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control, Public Radio International. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Indonesia Details | Tobacco Control Laws 2019, viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Indonesia – Tobacco Atlas 2019, viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Jakarta Reuters 2019, Indonesia to raise cigarette prices by more than a third at start of 2020, U.S. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Negara, S. 2019, Commentary: The power of Big Tobacco and Indonesia’s massive smoking problem, CNA. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Prabandari, Y. and Dewi, A. 2016, How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students, Taylor & Francis. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation. viewed 24 November 2019, <>.

World Health Organization 2019, World Health Organization. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

(Post D) The Correlation between Socio-geography & Indonesia’s Tobacco Epidemic.

In many scholarly literature, the findings and statistics on tobacco related topics are homogenised to a national level. ‘Our World in Data’ reported that Indonesia had one of the biggest gap between the amount of female and male smokers and one of the highest smoking rates worldwide; 40% of the population smoke and out of the smokers, 60% were men but only 4% were women (Aditama 2002, pp. 56). However, Indonesia is comprised of many islands and regions: culture and norms can be unique and vary therefore requires a further breakdown in order to tackle the tobacco problem.

Ng, Weinehall & Ohman (2007) suggests that the use of tobacco in the construction of masculinity explains the low statistics of female tobacco users versus high statistics of male users. This claim is further backed by the World Health Organisation. In conjunction with the nations gender norms involved with smoking, we must consider factors of socio-geography as another research conducted suggests regions of poverty have a higher tobacco usage rate in Indonesia (Kusumawardani, Tarigan and Schlotheuber 2018).

Indonesian provinces with highest absolute poverty (Indonesia Investments, 2016)
Mapping of Tobacco regions in Indonesia

So why is Java extremely prone to high levels of Tobacco usage?

Firstly, the main tobacco plantation areas are situated in Deli (North Sumatra), Surakarta, Temanggung, Wonosobo and Kendal in Central Java, Yogyakarta and Besuki, Bojonegoro, Madura and Jember in East Java (International Labour Organisation 2019). People who are surrounded by tobacco and working for the industry are more likely to use it due to easy and cheap accessibility. The tobacco industry provides their source of income thus they favour it and are more likely to use it.

Secondly, there are apparent differences in education levels, opportunities and wealth distribution in Indonesia. The odds of smoking were “greater among adolescents with higher education as compared to those with lower education and adolescents in the poorest quintile had more than twice the odds of smoking compared with adolescents from the richest quintile” (Kusumawardani, Tarigan and Schlotheuber 2018) . Furthermore, high poverty rates in East, central and west Java reveals that children and adolescents are forced to work in these plantations rather than seeking further education.  

Javanese culture is considered more conservative thus gender roles and stereotypes may be more apparent. Males feel the need to smoke to fulfil gender roles.


Aditama, T.Y. 2002, ‘Smoking problem in Indonesia’, Medical Journal of Indonesia, vol. 11, no. 1; pp. 56-65. <>.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’- Indonesian teenage boys’ view about smoking’, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 794-804. <>.

Kusumawardani, N., Tarigan, I., & Schlotheuber, A. 2018, ‘Socio-economic, demographic and geographic correlates of cigarette smoking among Indonesian adolescents’, Global Health Action, vol. 11, no.1. <>.

International labour organisation 2019, Child labour in plantation, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <–en/index.htm>.


Indonesia Investments 2016, Urban and Rural Poverty in Indonesia, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <>.

Post D: Tobacco culture in Indonesia – “What about the youth”

The tobacco and cigarette industry and Indonesia have had such a long history it has become intertwined with the culture of the country, being one of the biggest industries within Indonesia and the second largest in all of Asia just behind China it supplies 96% of Indonesia’s national excise total. What does this mean for the youth of the country, with the legal minimum age of smoking being 18 this has really no control over how easily tobacco and cigarettes are accessible to the youth of the country. The industry remains largely unregulated especially in remote farming areas where the production of large amounts of tobacco occurs and for this reason it can be easily obtained. In those areas children as young as 8 can buy a single cigarette from the road side house for a couple of cents.  It has been documented that one in five children aged between 12 and 15 smoke and have access to tobacco and cigarettes through family, their community village and their social circle.

To tackle this epidemic, we have to look at ways the youth and nation can be supported through other industries within the country. It is a known fact that direct tobacco advertising is still allowed, and the countries youngest generation are still exposed to this, they see it in shops, billboards, TV commercials and social media. The other major promotion is through sponsorship for music festivals and sporting events, because this money is available, local communities can support underprivileged schools and provide funding for poorer families in the area that are not provided for by their own National Government. This is why many refuses to change the current status quo and ignored the problems, many communities need this type of sponsorship to survive and the financial aid outweighs the health concerns.

Education is the second biggest change that needs to occur, they need to know and be given information about the harmful effects of smoking and change the idea that smoking is “cool” to smoking can “kill”. Advertising Models of this are beginning in the country for example, the Indonesians Heart Foundation’s keren tanpa rokok and “smoke-free agents” movement. However, having positive solutions in place without support from Government and government officials, limits the overall effect of the campaign.

This map shows where Yogyakarta is situated to other regions of Indonesia, all which obtain high use of tobacco.

In review living in an environment where smoking is the norm, it is not only the governments responsibility to change the concept that smoking is ok, it getting the information out and changing individuals mindset and stopping it before it gets out of control.


Nathalia. T 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation, viewed on 27th  November 2019, <;.

Astuti. P, Freeman. B, 2018, ‘protecting young Indonesian hearts from tobacco’, the Conversation, viewed on 27th November 2019, <

Tobacco & Cigarette Industry Indonesia 2016, Indonesia-Investments, viewed on 27th November 2019, <>.

Meera. S 2017, Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic, CNN health, viewed on 27th November 2019, <>.

Sohn. E, 2017, ‘What’s The Rate Of Smoking In The 13- To 15-Year-Old Crowd?’, NPR, viewed on 27th November 2019, <

Wibaya, T. 2019, Tackling Indonesia’s smoking addiction a ‘double-edged sword’, ABC, Sydney, viewed 27th  November 2019, <>.


Dhumieres. M, 2018, ‘the number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control’, PRI, viewed 27th November 2019  <

POST D: A smoker’s rite of passage

Indonesia ranks as one of the highest countries for smoking and tops this in South East Asia, this can be credited to the fact that Indonesia has not ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and is one of the few countries to have not done so. The reasoning behind this is simply economical as their tobacco industry is one of the largest in the world, alongside the ingrained cultural significance it presently holds. Smoking is also a very gendered and almost performative action in Indonesia, as there is a very pervasive idea that smoking is ‘manly’; with non-smoking men being seen an ‘feminine’ by adolescent smokers (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2007).

A study conducted by Ng, Weinehall and Ohman in 2007 focused on rural regions to collect data on tobacco trends there, their focus area was Purworejo which is located in the south of Central Java. A similar study was also conducted in the capital of Central Java, Semarang. (Smet et al. 1999)Both of these studies produced results that indicate smoking is a bonding activity for male friendships and that they smoke the most in groups.  In another regional study conducted in Cibeureum in West Java (Ganiwijaya et al. 1995), they found that among the 13,863 people surveyed, 83.7% of the men indicated that they are current smokers and only 4.9% of the women indicated that they currently smoked. 

Generally speaking, in Indonesia, smoking is also a rite of passage for boys as it has been traditionally observed as a recognition of attaining manhood during circumcision ceremonies. This directly ties their concept of “masculinity” to smoking which has been indicated by the aforementioned studies. The tobacco industry does not help with the issue of smoking in young boys as ““loosies,” or single cigarettes, can be picked up for just a few cents and are often sold in stalls set up outside schools.” (Barclay 2017)

This is a map I developed that shows where the Tobacco stores and schools are in Yogyakarta based on information provided by google maps:

(addendum: travelling to Yogyakarta made me realise that tobacco is even easier to purchase and there are countless stores selling tobacco products which just goes to show how crucial primary research and mapping is when engaging with design for social change)

Despite the sale of cigarettes being banned to people under the age of eighteen, there is no penalty or punishment surrounding this and thus the rule is seldom observed. In addition to this, the tobacco industry has utilised advertisements which, while it claims do not target youth, clearly would be attractive to the demographic. The following advertisement by L.A. clearly encapsulates my point and serves as the conclusive piece for this post:

I live bold (L.A. Zone 2018)


Barclay, A. 2017, ‘In Marlboro’s last frontier, a smokers’ rights group is defending the “human right” to light up’, Quartz, 18 February, viewed 26 November 2019, <>.

Ganiwijaya, T., Sjukrudin, E., De Backer, G., Suhana, D., Brotoprawiro, S. & Sukandar, H., 1995, ‘Prevalence of cigarette smoking in a rural area of West Java, Indonesia’ Tobacco Control, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 335 – 337.

LA Zone 2018, I Live Bold, video recording, YouTube, viewed 26 November 2019, <>. 

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health Education Resource, vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 794 – 804.

Prabandari, Y.S. & Dewi, A. 2016, ‘How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students’, Global Health Action, vol. 9, no. 1, viewed 25 November 2019, <>.

Smet, B., Maes, L., De Clercq, L., Haryanti, K. & Winarno, R.D. 1999, ‘Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 186 – 191.

POST D:Indonesia’s tobacco market is full of vitality

Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, and as the number of global smokers decreases, Indonesia’s tobacco industry continues to flourish.  Indonesia’s dependence on tobacco is not only because of its availability and affordability, but also because of its key role in the country’s economy.

It is not uncommon for children to smoke in Indonesia.  No matter where you go in Indonesia, you can see people smoking.  This is no accident. By the Indonesian government’s default, the global tobacco industry has used advertising, marketing, a mix of cloves and chocolate to turn Indonesia into a smoking addictive country and one of the most valuable tobacco markets in the world.

The end result is an imminent public health disaster.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Indonesia has the highest smoking rate among men in the world, at 67%, and the smoking rate among women is also increasing rapidly.  The impact is huge. According to WHO statistics, approximately 425,000 Indonesians smoke each year, which is close to a quarter of the country’s annual death toll.

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