PROJECT: The Future of Jalan Malioboro

The following is a recount and documentation of the process that Adeel, Serena, Stella and Aisling, underwent to produce a response to their Design Project, Group C: Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro Street) and surrounding areas. 

Our group began their design project by coming together and discussing the research that we had gathered prior to the trip as well as the many ideas that we had been brainstorming. We posted a response to questions asked by our teachers on the 3rdof December 2019, into our private slack group, Group Pala:

“As a group we held many assumptions about the prevalence of smoking; we were surprised to see that there weren’t as many people smoking as often as we had assumed. Some of us were also expecting to see children smoking due to the exposure of media before the studio.

The tobacco advertisements were more impactful and shocking despite reading about them beforehand and we were especially surprised to see how many there were and how targeted they were.

We think some of the biggest challenges that we may face designing in this context are going to be cultural and language barriers. Socially speaking as well, we think deconstructing or challenging the entrenched gender roles and cultural significance of smoking will be very challenging. Besides the strong ties between masculinity and smoking, we believe the national patriotism tied to the tobacco industry in the general public will also be difficult to overcome. We are hoping to combat this through research and first-hand cultural immersion.”

Next we continued to do our own further research, both first hand and online, looking to gather as much information as possible before the commencement of our brief. 

A few days later, we had another meeting with our teachers where we discussed the three rules in which we would follow as a group, working together over the next week:

“Everyone should be heard and open to ideas but uniform in decision making. Keep up with deadlines and group goals. Have a place for everyone to shine.”

Following on from this, we were later given our official brief:

“*LOCATION C: Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro street) and surrounding areas* (Smoke free Yogya campaign, working with public spaces in Yogyakarta which fall under the Provincial government, not the city government. This links to the first focus of the public health campaign we discussed at Puskesmas Berbah. You might like to look into advertising contracts, visit Kali Code, or think about different ways of mapping the area.)”

We then continued our research, brain stormed ideas to present to the teachers in our next meeting, visited Malioboro and took observational notes and decided on our style of approach, through the lens of a comic book. 

After our first official meeting with our teachers at our hotel, we had a clear vision of where we were heading. We had our comic book idea approved and decided that our next steps would involve some more first-hand research as well as researching visual comic book styles. 

Here is a written recount of what the we did, following our first meeting: 

“Yesterday we had a busy day which primarily consisted of first hand research:

We looked at visual styles for comics by conducting our own research as well as visiting Achong. He showed us many of the comics that he has and talked to us about Riso printing. Through looking at different visual styles, we decided that we’d like to incorporate both hand drawn and photographic media into our comic. Here are some examples:

The photographic media will showcase textures from both Kali Code and Malioboro to reflect the histories of the locations in our future scenario, juxtaposing the old against the new to show how far Malioboro has come since its past in “2019”.
Next we walked around the streets, observing and photographing street art, looking at the various forms of self expression in the area. 

We then went on a 4 hour walking tour of Kali Code where we immersed ourselves in the rich history of the area by talking to locals as well as meeting the hard working families who specialise in different crafts, many of which end up at the markets in Malioboro. We told our tour guide that we were looking into the Tobbacco industry in Indonesia and he gave us some wonderful insights as he used to work in The House of Sampoerna, a Tobacco Museum, in Surabaya, East Java. We had many questions for the locals regarding cigarette advertisement in the area, which our tour guide was able to translate for us. for example, an elderly couple had cigarette advertisement banners hanging up in the front of their house which we were told they were given for free from the convenience store “to block the sun coming into their home”, because they have lots of them just lying around. 

Our tour guide, Bayu, in Kali Code – Photograph taken by Group Pala

We also spoke to a lady on the street who sold cigarettes in her store. She had giant banners to promote cigarettes at the front of her store and we asked her if she got paid to have them there, she said “no”, but that it lets people know that there are cigarettes there and helps her with business. At the end of the tour, we conducted a formal interview with the tour guide as a subject, his name is Bayu Topan. We found him interesting because he does not smoke but always felt a great deal of pressure to do so and he used to struggle because people would say ‘he is not a man’ if he does not smoke. Many male members of his family also gave up smoking cigarettes in their later life due to poor health. 

Then after the tour, some of us went to Malioboro to observe our surroundings as well as to enjoy the car free day/night and festival. It was a very different atmosphere this time around and we recorded key sensory observations such as colours, noise, smell, weather and the actions of people around us. We also used mixed tools to record our surroundings such as photography, videography, writing and sound mapping. 
Then our last task of the night was to watch Into the Spiderverse, a comic book style movie about Spider-Man which uses various visual symbols and styles to link the movie to its comic book background.

And then we reconvened and brought together our many ideas for our future scenario and decided and what we wanted to do. We also drew up some sketches of what we want our comic to look like.”

Over the next few days, we continued to work together as a group, meeting up each day with the teachers and continuing our research as well as the development of our project and visuals for our comic through both photography and drawing.

Here are further written recounts from what we were able to achieve over those few days:

“Yesterday we contacted Bayu and got his permission to use him as a main character in our comic, as well as permission to keep his name the same.

Then, we gathered as a group and put together a storyboard while working on creating different scenes visually and decided how we would go about it. While the illustrators were working on their drawings, I put together scripts, titles for the comic and conducted further research. We have decided that we will only have two pages with a comic illustration, printed in Riso, the cover and the first page. The remainder of the comic will be presented as a scroll comic while we communicate the information for our scenario to the audience. This is more achievable for us. 

We also re-visited Malioboro but this time during the day to gain a new perspective. We took note of sensory observations as well as using photography to document the streets. We later used the photos to help aid our research and drawings of the Malioboro area.

Next we went and chose paper stock that we would like to use for our Riso printing. After successfully choosing a size, colour and texture, we went to another shop and got all the pages cut to size. 

In the afternoon, we went and visited Anagard’s home in Bantul. Anagard is a famous street artist in Indonesia who has his own studio and produces work throughout the town of Bantul as well as abroad. Anagard is currently in Cambodia doing work for people so he could not be at his home but he thanked us for coming to visit and had his student give us a tour of the work in the local village that Anagard and other artists have contributed to. We found the work of the artists interesting because the street art in the village is being used to convey important messages and themes such as recognising the work of farmers and how vital they are to the country, control of the citizens, particularly children, through media as well as looking into health issues such as excess sugar consumption. It was also interesting to see the variety of visual styles used. 

We continued to work on the visuals for the comics and developed our scenario for the year 2040 which the teachers had approved.

We also had a look at the comic book section and children’s book section at Milas Vegetarian Resto.”

Finally, our project was close to being complete and we were beginning to tie up any loose ends that we still had to finish, including printing our Riso work and rehearsing our script for the scenario presentation.

We decided on riso printing as it would be most effective in displaying our dystopian view. The three colours used to print were red, black and blue. This way, we were able to use the red to draw attention to the abundance of cigarette advertising, contrasted against the blue of the streets and buildings. The smoke was printed in black to also show the toxicity of the environment. Also, though each were individually illustrated with different styles, the limitation of colours ensured visual cohesion. 

We printed three poster designs for the presentation: the first was the cover of the comic, in which Bayu, the protagonist and hero is given the spotlight. The other poster was a dystopian view of Maliaboro St, in which dark clouds of smoke overwhelm the environment, cigarette butts are littered everywhere and Marlboro advertising has taken over the street. The last poster is a scene from the comic that showcases the only smoke-free zone, the Marlboro Mall.

Here is a copy of the speech that we gave in our presentation:

“Before we start, we would just like to say hello and thank you to a special guest in the audience, Bayu. Without whom, we would not have been able to learn all we have about our area of research. He has also been our inspiration for our hero character in our comic book!

The date is May 31st2040, World no Tobacco Day, and Indonesia has still not signed the WHO FCTC. This comes despite the efforts of many organizations to direct Indonesia towards a ‘smoke-free’ future. Indonesia’s failure to implement harsher anti-smoking laws has led to the demise of specific ‘smoke-free’ areas across the city and has seen an increase in active smokers of all ages, specifically boys between the ages of 12 to 15 years old. 

The city streets and village landscapes are littered with red, black and white banners, more so than ever, often sporting the age-old slogan “Pro Never Quit”. Like propaganda, cigarette advertisement drape across the surroundings, poisoning the minds of the people. Where once there stood ‘smoke free areas’ in restaurants, hospitals, schools and more, people gather to smoke like never before. The saddest of all is Jalan Malboro, formerly known as Jalan Malioboro. Celebrating the street’s love of cigarettes, despite it once being a ‘smoke free zone’, the area was officially renamed to ‘Marlboro’. Its vibrancy, culture and bustling nature has been swept away like the fresh air that once was, and standing in its place is the stench of burning tobacco as it sweeps through the streets, like a dark grey cloud, choking us all.

Everywhere you look, children are made to wear face masks, their little eyes peeping out from the cloth that protects their lungs trying not to breathe in the harsh chemicals that reside in the air. What once was a city loved, is now an area where people only gather to smoke, a soulless void that sucks your life away. Moving swiftly off the streets, the plaza is the only escape for people wanting to get away from the smoke. 

The most popular items sold in Marlboro are face masks and cigarettes, an unlikely combination that has cemented its way into the streets among the discarded cigarette butts that litter the ground like leaves after a heavy storm. Whispers among locals say that the ghosts of the past that once had Marlboro dancing and singing into the night, now haunt the hollow lanes, desolate and black. Street vending carts lie dormant like wounded skeletons, tossed to the side, but no one bats an eye. 

This is the Malioboro that you once loved. Is this the future that you want for it?

This is how we envision the future to be if nothing changes. As a group, we have brought to life, a series of visuals in the form of a comic in the hopes that we may prevent such things from happening. By seeing the dim prospects of what lies in store, our comic aims to scare people into action. 

Through extensive research, we have been able to create a realistic landscape of what the future may hold. Let’s talk about how tobacco continued to take over despite the solutions that Indonesia has tried to put in place, particularly amongst the younger generations. Back in 2018, the National Health Research Data (Riskesdas) noted that “the prevalence of smoking teenagers aged 10-18 years old rose from 7.2% in 2013, to 9.1% in 2018. This shows a clear increase of new smokers over the time period in which new policies have been implemented. According to Andrew Rosser from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, the inconsistency of the government in locking down a stricter tobacco-control policy regime has had a negative impact on the country’s worsening tobacco epidemic. Thus, tobacco control in Indonesia will likely not move forward until the government strengthens existing laws, makes new improved laws or “develops protocols for enforcing all laws”.

Rosser also notes, that advertising is also a key player in the worsening of the tobacco crisis in Indonesia with statistics showing that over 90% of young students in one month during 2015 had actively noticed advertisements on billboards for cigarettes, magazines and newspapers. 

In an article ‘Linking global youth tobacco survey data to the WHO framework convention on tobacco control: The case for Indonesia’, inconsistencies within the tax administration on cigarettes has allowed for loopholes to form between point of sale and consumers. “Tired tax rates by production scale allows firms to evade paying the highest tax brackets legally, thereby increasing profit margins while reducing the prices at point of sale”. According to a 2009 article on tobacco control for health by Sarah Barber and Abdillah Ahsan, Indonesia has been implementing tobacco regulations since 1999, but the reality of tobacco use goes in the opposite direction according to the survey data report. Other contributing factors that have shaped our future scenario include a lax control over tobacco in Indonesia, the social normality of smoking, the powerful lobby of the tobacco industry against tobacco control and the continued profit maximization behaviour and sustainability of the tobacco industry. 

The possible impacts of thinking about this scenario now include early prevention where we can see the extremes that Indonesia is heading towards if harsher control of tobacco is not implemented. With this, early strategies can be put into place, spurring the people of Jogja into action. It allows time for a campaign to arise brought about by the shock factor created from this scenario. After becoming aware of what the future may hold, we can work together to avoid such an outcome. 

What can be implemented now is the spreading of awareness of what the future may look like if nothing is done. We would like this comic to be in print form and readily available to anyone who wishes to read it, by making it affordable to people of all ages with no restrictions. We want people to look at the tobacco industry from a new perspective. Our comic is thought provoking and can spur changes such as the removal of advertising from Malioboro street, the implementation of smoke free zones that are monitored and adhered to, as well as signage to remind people that no smoking is permitted. Through our comic, we believe community action can form with added pressure from the public to see changes that will improve the future prospects of the area.  

Our scenario can help our stakeholders imagine different ways of doing things. It can help them to investigate new ways of approaching the topic. In our case, through a medium that is quite popular, especially among young audiences in which we could have the biggest impact, therefore preventing children and teenagers from taking up smoking. It also has an element of fun and thought provocation through the act of reading a comic, something which can be a cause for discussion. Our comic is also new and visually appealing, grabbing the attention of those who may want to read it. Alongside our comic there is potential for expansion into other forms of campaigning such as interactive murals or street art where people are invited to leave their messages for others to see. 

Over time, in our scenario, we anticipate the social context, global tobacco industry and stakeholders to change. In the future, more countries will place tighter restrictions on tobacco as part of the signing of the WHO FCTC. As a result, the industry will put added pressure on Indonesia to continue to increase its production and demand for the consumption of tobacco products. In a social context, it will become more widely acceptable to smoke as a result of the pressure and a doubling on the production of advertisements that are placed in public areas. While stakeholders are still campaigning against the tobacco industry, it will be no match for the tobacco takeover. 


Our hero Bayu takes a group of tourists on a tour,

Welcome to Jalan Marlboro! Sorry there is a lot of smoke, there’s nothing stopping people from smoking here. 

The smoke begins to take over. 

Bayu explains to the group, 

Many years ago, before being overtaken by the smoke, this street was lined with beautiful and vibrant stores selling lovely handmade crafts. Now all that remains are abandoned stalls with cigarette butts lying around the streets. 

No longer able to withstand the smoke, they exclaim ‘lets get away from all this smoke!’ 

They spot the only smoke free zone, the mall, and rush towards it, thwarted by the line snaking out and around the street as everyone is driven there for some relief from the smoke. The End.

Here’s some of our other printed materials we’d like to share.”


Achadi, A., Croghan, I., Ebbert, J. & Hurt, R. 2012, Roadmap to a tobacco epidemic: transnational tobacco companies invade Indonesia, BMJ Journals, vol. 21, no. 3, viewed 21 November 2019,

Aditama, T., Asma, S., Jones, N., Lee, J., Pradono, J., Rahman, Q. & Warren, C. 2008, Linking Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) data to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: the case for Indonesia, Preventive medicine, vol. 47, viewed 12 December 2019,

Ahsan, A. & Barber, S. 2009, The tobacco excise system in Indonesia: Hindering effective tobacco control for health, Journal of Public Health Policy, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 208 – 225.

Danardono, M., Ng, N., Nichter, M., Padmawati, S. & Prabandari, Y. 2009, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, BMJ Journals, vol. 18, no. 2, viewed 24 November 2019,

Dhumieres, M. 2019, The number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control, Public Radio International, unknown date, viewed 23 November 2019,

Hidayat, B. & Thabrany, H. 2010, Cigarette Smoking in Indonesia: Examination of a Myopic Model of Addictive Behaviour, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 7, no. 6, viewed 22 November 2019,

Hull, T., McDonald, P., Reimondos, A., Suparno, H., Utomo, A. & Utomo, I. 2012, Smoking and young adults in Indonesia, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute, vol. 1, no. 2, viewed 25 November 2019,

Click to access policy_background_2_smoking.pdf

Lando, H. 2016, Promoting tobacco cessation in low- and middle-income countries, Cambridge Core, vol. 11, no. 2, viewed 22 November 2019,

Luetge, C. & Tandilittin, H. 2013, Civil Society and Tobacco Control in Indonesia: The Last Resort, The Open Ethics Journal, vol. 7, viewed 10 December 2019,

McCall, C. 2014, Tobacco advertising still rife in southeast Asia, The Lancet, vol. 384, no. 9951, viewed 20 November 2019,

Ng, N., Ohman, A. & Weinehall, L. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, viewed 22 November 2019,

Rosser, A. 2015, Contesting Tobacco-Control Policy in Indonesia, Critical Asian Studies, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 69 – 93.

The Tobacco Atlas, 2015, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, viewed 26 November 2019,

World Health Organization, 2018, Factsheet 2018 Indonesia, Regional Office for South-East Asia, viewed 24 November 2019,

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