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).
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. <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274338251_Smoking_problem_in_Indonesia>.
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. <https://academic.oup.com/her/article/22/6/794/640787>.
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. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5990951/>.
International labour organisation 2019, Child labour in plantation, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <https://www.ilo.org/jakarta/areasofwork/WCMS_126206/lang–en/index.htm>.
Indonesia Investments 2016, Urban and Rural Poverty in Indonesia, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <https://www.indonesia-investments.com/finance/macroeconomic-indicators/poverty/item301>.