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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Post D – Java tobacco culture: “Will Someone Please think of the Children!?”

Tobacco culture has Indonesia firmly in it’s grasp, so tight that it’s economy is dependant on multinational tobacco corporations which exploit it’s poorly enforced laws and developing farmland regions, leading to “inadequate regulations and poor enforcement of the law, particularly in the small-scale farming sector, leave[ing] working children at risk” (Wurth & Buchanan 2016). As well as exploiting child labour, the tobacco industry utilises overt and ubiquitous advertising via multi channel media across the nation, most notably targeting to impressionistic young adults, and children by proxy. Indonesia holds the highest percentage of young male smokers on earth (Senthilingam 2017), as well as being one of the worlds highest prevalence of male smokers next to China and Russia (Drope & Schluger 2018, p. 20)

(Senthilingam 2017) via The Tobacco Atlas

[Smoking] make[s] me look cool” says a young boy who is brand loyal to Djarum Super, the commercials “are cool, hip [and] really stylish, the actors are very cool” (Brabazon 2012, 7:00 – 7:17).

“Ompong, which means ‘toothless’, has a cigarette” (Siu 2014-2015)

Children see adverts on television admittedly designed to reach the younger generations: Cigarette companies do this by also sponsoring football, badminton, cycling and adventure sports (Ibid, 2:48 – 2:55).

“This cigarette advertisement in #Yogyakarta urges smokers to ‘never quit’ #Indonesia” (Strangio 2017)

The effect of tobacco culture on children in Indonesia is widespread, so much so that not only are children buying into the influential habitual trend of smoking, but in rural areas they’re faced with economic pressure to work at plantations harvesting tobacco leaves, the leaves of which have been reportedly sold directly through tobacco merchants to British American owned companies which produce many of the cigarettes in Indonesia.

“A tobacco trader judges the quality of tobacco he purchased from another trader near Sumenep” (Bleasdale 2015)

Tobacco Harvesting without proper enforced safety regulations can cause transdermal nicotine poisoning. “I’m always throwing up every time I’m harvesting” says Ayu, a 13 year old girl who harvests tobacco with her family from a small village near Garut. However, it is her and her families only choice available to earn a wage to survive (Wurth & Buchanan 2016).

Explorers map of the Tobacco industry in Central Java

Through joining the dots, it is clear that tobacco industries are complicit in ethical crimes against children, through actively exploiting child labour via tobacco merchants, and also by advertising / sponsoring multi channel media that directly coerces the youth of Indonesia into the habit of smoking.


Barbazon, J. 2012, ‘Unreported World’, Indoneisa’s Tobacco Children, vol. 24, no 2, Quicksilver Media Productions, United Kingdom, p. 23:31, <;.

Bleasdale, M. 2015, Tobacco Trader, Photograph, Human Rights Watch, <;.

Drope, J. & Schluger, N.W. 2018, The Tobacco Atlas, Sixth Edition edn, American Cancer Society, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Senthilingam, M. 2017, Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic, CNN, <;.

Siu, M. 2014-2015, Marlboro Boys, Photographic series with text, <;.

Strangio, S. 17 July 2017, This cigarette advertisment in Yogyakarta urges smokers to “never quit” […], Twitter, <;.

Wurth, M. & Buchanan, J. 2016, The Harvest is in My Blood.

Post D: Government financial dependancy on the tobacco industry

The tobacco industry in Indonesia is deeply intertwined into the financial structures of the government, making it challenging to encourage people to quit smoking. The taxes placed on cigarettes attributed to nearly 10% of the total government revenue in 2002 (Danardono, Nichter, Ng, Padmawati, & Prabandari 2009). The industry employs over 11 millions citizens, being the second largest employer after the government. It also plays a role in sponsoring a majority of the nations social, cultural and sporting events, and even offers scholarships to students to attend colleges. In Yogyakarta the tobacco companies provide the government with ‘social contributions’, that finance the construction of public features such as, city gardens, bus shelters and street lighting (Danardono et al. 2009). Targeting the financial structures of this breadth and depth, makes it intrinsically rooted into the lives of Indonesian people. 

‘I sympathise with the idea of getting people to stop smoking, but for now the cost is too high’’

– Indonesian Minister of finance (Danardono, Nichter, Ng, Padmawati, & Prabandari 2009, p. 98)

In Yogyakarta, tobacco culture is heavily prevalent. Shop fronts are littered with adverts, billboards plastered with campaigns, and citizens smoke freely, with few restrictions placed on smoke-free areas (McCall 2014). Tobacco company, Kraton Dalem, uses the deeply historic emblem of the Saltan palace for their packaging, and a yearly competition is run, offering the grand prize of a pilgrimage to Mecca (Danardono et al. 2009). Doing so, the tobacco industry embeds itself in the history, culture and religion of the city, making it a source of national pride, encouraging spending. Despite this saturation, anti-tobacco movements are arising across the city. In 2017, a mural was put up as a community project, encouraging people to reject the tobacco industry (MTCC 2017). These murals were painted in bright luminescent paints that glow under ultraviolet lights, sparking conversation and worldwide recognition. 

‘Show your true colours’ community project, encouraging the citizens of Yogyakarta to reject the tobacco industry, through colourful painted murals (MTCC 2017)

You cannot use the economic impact of Australia’s tobacco policy changes as a prediction for how it would effect Indonesia, as Australia is of a privileged position, being a developed nation. However Australia’s anti-smoking journey can be used as an example of the possibility for change. Fear that media revenue in Australia would be at a loss when bans were placed on cigarette advertising in 1976, were later subsided, as these spaces were quickly filled with other adverts (The Cancer Council 2019). Similarly for the impact on income, for hospitality venues and small business owners. While the tobacco industry does provide financial gain, it should be considered the impact smoking has on the health system. It is predicted that non-communicable diseases will cost Indonesia up to US$4.5 trillion from 2012-2030 (Bernaert, Bloom, Candeias, Cristin, Chen, McGovern & Prettner 2015). There is no denying changes in government policies regarding the tobacco industry would have a negative financial impact, however the further embedded it becomes in their culture, the harder it will become to remove.

Map of Yogyakarta, plotting key features of the city that are targeted/funded by the tobacco industry, to encourage tobacco culture

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