Post D: Kudus, Kretek, Kelamin

Indonesia has the highest smoking rates in the world, a huge influence on such negative health decisions is the austerity of gender roles. Despite there being approximately fifty-seven million individuals participating in tobacco usage, only 5% of smokers are female. This extreme disparity of tobacco intake is encouraged through marketing methods that on social stereotypes and traditions which usually pressures young males. This social stricture becomes a further difficult instrument, as it not only encourages people to smoke but also prevents people from quitting, 30.4% in Indoesnia attempts to quit but only 9.5% are successful, compared to Australia’s statistics of 60.5% of individuals who attempt and successfully cease smoking. Kudus, in Central Java, is one of many regencies impacted by such perception of tobacco. Being the originators of ‘kretek’, a popular Indonesian clove cigarette, they value and symbolise the ‘kretek’ as the “aromatic soul of a nation, the fragment embodiment of all Indonesians”.

Gudang Garam, a tobacco company which sells ‘kretek’, markets towards young Indonesian males, to adopt this prideful, zealous figure of an ideal ‘Indonesian Man’. An advertisement by Gudang Garam, critiques the younger generation on their powerlessness, a television ad where a young woman elucidated to be a tour guide is ignored until the bus driver, an older man, speaks and gains the tourists interest. This compares younger males to this weak perception of women, displaying the elders to be distinguished because of their tradition with cigarettes. This juxtaposition not only disdains women but presents cigarettes as a catalyse to create puissant men. Subtly the advert invites the young males to reflect on their social position and questions their cultural identity.

Tobacco companies further influence the population of young males in Kudus, through sporting sponsorships. Soccer is the most popular sports in Indonesia, highly popular with adolescent males, with 54% of the Indonesian population watching EPL (English Premier League). As a reaction all major tobacco companies sponsor sporting events. In June 2012, Gudang Garam, an Indonesian tobacco company, had a contract with Manchester United and England football star Rio Ferdinand, the sports figure endorsing sweet cinnamon flavoured ‘kretek’ which are particularly popular with children. This ignited great controversy, with the National Commission for Child Protection in Indonesia to intervene, “since Rio Ferdinand is a major role model for children and adolescent in Indonesia”. This marketing method to create a “friendly familiarity” between tobacco and sports enthusiasts, encourages males into tobacco through those they admire. ­

Gudang Garam Intersport, 2012

Overall ‘kretek’ despite the health complications it may cause, it holds an identity to Indonesians. Highly valuing the ‘kretek’ culture in Kudus, combined with the advertisements of gender roles creates a greater influence on the male population.

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