With aggressive tobacco advertising, bombarding the urban and rural environments of Indonesia; smoking rates are among the highest worldwide. Tobacco culture in Indonesia is immensely unhealthy, as 34% of the population are regular smokers. Nation-wide, 63% of men and 5% of women smoke daily (Tobacco Atlas). Over 225,700 Indonesians die annually of tobacco caused diseases. The lack of government regulated advertising bans are accountable for theses shocking statistics. The low public awareness of the manipulation carried out by the tobacco industry, will impact the lives of youth dramatically; as they are the target audience of current tobacco campaigns. Over 30% of Indonesian children have smoked cigarettes by the age of 10. The appalling tobacco culture in Indonesia is setting up the youth of the country, for a life of sickness caused by tobacco addiction from early childhood. The complacency of the government is a driving force for the lack of regulations against tobacco, due to the fact that Indonesia is one of the largest tobacco producers worldwide. The Indonesian government fails to see the long term effects and economic losses caused by cigarettes, instead prioritising annual economic gains.
Indonesia remains the only country in the Asia Pacific Region that has not yet signed or implemented the World Health Organisations ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco,’ as well as, not having implemented any bans on Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships (TAPS). Thus, Indonesian tobacco culture and the advertising industry around it, is a highly unrestricted and free environment. The nature of tobacco advertising nationwide is increasingly creative and somewhat, aggressive. The tobacco industry wishes to promote associations between smoking and emotional control, as well as masculinity, modernity and traditional values. With 88% of Indonesian smokers using clove-flavoured kreteks, this type of cigarette is marketed as an Indigenous Indonesian product, upholding an image of nationalism and traditional values. It is this kind of manipulation which the Indonesian people are victims of as the industry exploits traditional associations with tobacco, in order to gain consumers.
A 2017 study including 360 schools in 5 of the largest Indonesian cities, found that 54% of schools observed were surrounded by advertisements, and promotions showcasing discounts, competitions and sponsorships relating to tobacco (Astuti IS, 2017). This is a clear example of the industries aim to target youth and lure them into the world of tobacco addiction. Furthermore, tobacco culture in Yogyakarta is unavoidable, as advertisements ‘saturate the landscape’ (Nichter M, Padmawati S, Danardono M, 2009) with Kretek ads featured at every corner and on every billboard. Contrastingly, within a global context, most countries have banned tobacco advertising (such as Australia) since recognising the destructive impacts of smoking. The high exposure to TAPS alongside cheap and easily accessible cigarettes has resulted in high smoking rates amongst Indonesians (Astuti PAS, Freeman B, 2017). The devastating social and economic impacts of tobacco induced diseases can be easily prevented by implementing effective tobacco control policies and advertising bans.
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