Post C: Fitri – Gender and Smoking

On 1-14thDecember of 2019, I visited Yogyakarta to participate in a global studio focusing on the wicked problem of tobacco. During my visit, I got a chance to interview one of the clothing street vendors in Malioboro street, Fitri. In Indonesia, it is estimated that around 65 percent of Indonesian men are smokers. While for Indonesian women, the figure is much lower – around 3 percent only (Indonesia Investment 2016). I asked her several questions about the current situation of smoking in Yogyakarta, precisely in Malioboro street. She claimed that most of the smokers situated there, are young men and usually they smoked as a group “they smoke just to socialize” she said. When I asked her about why we don’t really see young girls or women smoke in public she answered that in Indonesia it is still taboo for women to smoke moreover if they are wearing hijab. Tobacco kills 255 720 people each year around the world (WHO 2018) and Indonesia is the 6thranked country that smokes the most cigarettes around the world. Everywhere I walk along the Malioboro street I could see someone smoke while they are sitting, walking or even standing while chatting with their friends. Fitri also told me that her father and older brother smokes since young age because of the pressure from their community. After she said that it makes me think that young students smoke not because they want to in the first place but because of the pressure from their surroundings since early age that makes them hard to quit. Fitri claimed that she wishes that her father and brother will quit smoking as soon as possible since she is worried about their health condition. She claimed that her dad has a hard time breathing while her brother keeps on coughing occasionally. 

A person standing in front of a store

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One of the cigarettes seller selling ranges of cigarette brands in Malioboro street (Rokok Indonesia 2014).

From a research conducted by the University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, most smokers are worried about the dangers of smoking that can affect their health if the cigarette packaging shows the picture of diseases that they can get if they continue to smoke printed on the packaging cover(University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta 2012). In my opinion, Indonesia needs to enforce the plain packaging law as soon as possible since when I go to the supermarket I can still see cigarette boxes with no big image of health warning printed on the cover.


Indonesia Investments 2016, Tobacco & Cigarette Industry Indonesia, viewed 16 December 2019, <;.

Rokok Indonesia 2014, INDUSTRI ROKOK, Flickr, viewed 16 December 2019, <>.


World Health Organization 2018, Factsheet 2018 Indonesia, viewed 16 December 2019, <;.

POST C: Primary Research – Behavioural uses of Tobacco:

Through conducting primary research and analysis, it has become clear that smoking in Indonesia is part of a complex social construct, whereby tobacco use has been labelled as an aspect of Indonesian ‘culture’. During my time in Java, I was able to interview Novaldy, a tour guide who I met in Temanggung. He had many things to say about the tobacco industry, as well as how we could influence people to understand the negative aspects of smoking, through education.  

Novaldy had a comprehensive understanding of the manipulation from the government and the role which they play in the wicked problem of tobacco in Indonesia. Despite the extreme social pressures from friends and family, it was noted that the governments role in tobacco funding and allowing for advertisements, is the root of the problem. He expressed concerns that Indonesia is still one of the few countries in the world who have not signed the World Health Organisations ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco’ and have not implemented any bans on tobacco advertising. In accordance with Novaldy’s comments on the issue, an online source states that the high exposure of tobacco advertising, as well as cheap and easily accessible cigarettes have led to a significant increase in smoking rates (Astuti PAS, Freeman B, 2017). These factors combined with social pressures have resulted in a high rate of underage smoking. Novaldy pointed out that it infuriates him to see all the boys in his village smoking whilst riding their bikes through the streets. In his opinion, the young boys, feel as though they need to smoke, in order to be considered masculine and to fit in with their friends. A report on youth smoking throughout Java, indicates that the widespread presence of underage smoking, is largely attributed to peer pressure and social/cultural ideas that smoking is an act of masculinity (Nawi Ng, L. Weinehall, A. Öhman, 2007). This idea is further portrayed in tobacco advertising throughout Java, such as the ‘PRO Never Quit’ Ads which can be found on every street corner in Yogyakarta.

I asked Novaldy, what he thinks could be done to convince people of the dangers of smoking, and the need to quit as soon as possible to prevent illness. He believes that the best way to educate people about the need to quit, would be indirectly. Novaldy stated that in the past, riots and revolutions have started, against political figures and health ministers, due to their opinions on this issue. He suggests that this could be done by educating about alternative uses of tobacco, such as the natural dyeing of fabric, which produces around thirty shades (Fibre2Fashion, 2012). He also assumes that if tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships (TAPS) were banned, or at least regulated to only target adults (eg, tv commercials only allowed late at night), the prevalence of youth smoking would decrease. 

Heres a photo I took on my trip, of teenage boys smoking in a non-smoking zone in Malioboro. This showcases the extent of underage smoking which takes place in Java.

Overall, Novaldy was able to provide me with insight regarding behavioural uses of tobacco and the extent to which, social events and cultural attitudes encourage smoking. 


Astuti IS, 2017, Educating Youth Against Tobacco Advertising: A Media Literacy Approach for Reducing Indonesia’s Replacement Smokers, Volume 10, viewed 19 December 2019, <>.

Fibre2Fashion, 2012, Tobacco Dyes, viewed 19 December 2019, <>.

Nawi Ng, L. Weinehall, A. Öhman, 2007, ’If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, Volume 22, Issue 6. 

Post C : “I smoke because I want to”

Global Studio in Yogyakarta that was held on 1-14 December 2019 was a very fun and educating experience. The studio’s main focus was to future Yogyakarta in 2040. I got to future Malioboro Street for my project, and I focused on the wicked tobacco problem that I encountered during my stay in Central Java. Based on secondary research that I have done before coming to Yogyakarta, I found out that based on research done in 2005, it shows that the percentage of young active smokers in Indonesia is 38% among boys and 5.3% among girls (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman, 2006). This may happen as tobacco industry in Indonesia is very strong, as it employs more than 11 million workers and is the second-largest employer after the government (Nichter M, Padmawati S, Danardono M, et al, 2009). As an Indonesian myself, I am not surprised by the research that I found. Since I was little, I grew up watching countless of people smoking on the streets, from all different classes. In this chance to visit Yogyakarta specifically to tackle this problem, I interviewed a university student that I met at Spedagi factory, named Novaldy who is originally from Temanggung, to understand further about this specific issue. 

Novaldy himself smokes, and has no intention to stop. When I asked him on what might be a reason for him to quit, he answered if his girlfriend tells him to. He also said that nothing really triggered him to smoke, he just feels like he wants to. After I give it some thought, I think that some university students smoke just for fun and out of boredom. I can also say that students in that age, also prioritize and consider that having a partner is important, therefore they listen to their partner in order to keep the relationship going. From this interview, I know for sure that at least tobacco problem in Central Java is not an impossible task to be tackled down in the future. While persuading older people not to smoke seems difficult, taking another step to lecture younger generations about the risk of smoking is more achievable. This also rings a bell on an article that I read the other day, that stated that there are two types of smokers, one is the experimental smoker, and the other one is a regular smoker (Marwati, 2011). This statement also increased my belief that Indonesia in the future will not be the top five tobacco consuming countries in the world (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman, 2006).

Image of Novaldy from his Instagram

Reference Lists :

Marwati, 2011, 16 Percent of Junior and Senior High School Students in Yogyakarta City are Smokers, viewed 22 November 2019, <;.

mnovaldy 2019, Tuk Mulyo – ‘Trip anti galau, Nostalgia masa SD, espacism’, 9 November, viewed 16 December 2019, <;.

Nawi Ng, L. Weinehall, A. Öhman, 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp 794–804, viewed 22 November 2019, <;.

Nichter M, Padmawati S, Danardono M, et al, 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 02, pp 98-107, viewed 21 November 2019, <;.

#Post.A The connection between designer and tobbaco industry

Designers have played a relevant role in the tobacco industry in Indonesia. Especially in tobacco packaging and advertising have become a dominant position. According to Lian(2010), Philip Morris mentioned “The primary job of the package and advertising is to create a desire to purchase and try”,which clarified the designer’s direction for tobacco companies.That means tobacco companies will be deemed to cigarette packaging an integral part of the marketing strategy. There are a lots of tobacco adverting in Yogyakarta such as the advertising of Dunhill cigarette brand showing the high technology and modern city to attract people attention. Another example is the television advertising of L.A brand, which the slogan is’ I lead the pack, I rule the world’ showing the man’s power to attract smoker to buy the cigarette. According to Unreported world (2012), a teenager called Fuad said he start to smoking is because the ads attract him. He feel like smoking is pretty cool while he saw the advertising on the television.

Dunhill television advertising

Moreover, package designer alway use bright colors and trendy flavors logo to attract smokers, such as tea flavor and cappuccino flavors shown on the package(Lian 2010). The tobacco package designer in order to reach the aim of attract people to purchase the cigarettes. They was design some of the commemorative pack showing the popularity of international sporting events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is flags of top competitors are depicted on the packaging. Djarum cigarettes company also win some customer by introducing 12 limited edition pack design feature native to South Africa(Lian 2010). 


2010 FIFA World cup package with animal and football of Djarum.

Furthermore, there are no point to convincing the statement of the tobacco companies deny their advertising targets is under 18 year old is right. Because the themes of tobacco advertising that are likely to be very attractive to young people, such as humor, adventure, cool, bravery and success. According to Macfie(2019), The health warning on the package does not change the smoker behavior in Indonesia. As Surjanto Yasaputera who is work at a cigarette manufacturer in Jakarta said ‘ the health warning does not have a significant impact of sales after the country have implement it. And it it not getting attention of smoker. 


Reference lists:

Lian. Y. T. 2010, Are we to believe the package has no ROLE?, Abuse of the pack to promote cigarettes in the region, Southeast Asia tobacco control alliance, Bangkok, pp.1-pp.15.

Macfie, N. 2019, Indonesia rolls out graphic health warnings on cigarette packs,The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, Sydney, viewed 19 December 2019, <;.

Unreported world 2012, Indonesia’s tobacco children, viewed 19 December 2019, <;.

Designing (out) the Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry plays a large role in Yogyakarta’s society through its economic value via export and job creation. Due to its power, laws implemented on the tobacco industry allow for flexible design application through mainly advertisement and sponsorship of events and social media influencers. Designers also play a large role in the branding associated with packaging and streamlining of machinery for maximum product output.

  • Cigarette marketing in Indonesia is among the most aggressive and innovative in the world. As Sampoerna noted in their annual report in 1995: ‘‘Indonesian companies have almost total freedom to advertise their products in any format and through any communications vehicle in the country’’.  Unfortunately, this statement is as true today as it was over a decade ago. The reported expenditure by the tobacco industry on advertising in Indonesia in 2006 was Rp 1.6 trillion (approximately $178 million US dollars). (Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, p.99)

Having not signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), popular Indonesian events such as ‘Java Rockin’Land’ are subject to sponsorship of tobacco companies like Gudang Garam, who promote ‘big name’ western artists under advertisements  designed to be accessed online, through print media and television to attract national attention. Gudang Garam also promoted discounted tickets for students’ months prior to the event in hopes that a large number of there impressionable minds will be subject to high intensities of tobacco advertisement in connection with western ‘star power’. It is this double standard that many affluent western artists and influencers have that is becoming a main contributor to the tobacco industries increasing flourishment in Indonesia and are therefore incurring rebelling protest from Indonesian anti-smoke organisations such as the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. 

Through design activism, creative culture makers and designers can combat this tobacco epidemic through actively engaging in functional design that tackles social, environmental and political issues. By engaging campaigns through pop culture’s broad societal umbrella, the effectiveness of anti-smoking design activism would not only stay contemporary but would also allow current understanding and connectedness to become apparent in community settings. Targeting these ideas through event sponsorship and social media campaigns would be noticeable as an active engagement in protest against the tobacco industry’s indifferent marketing tools. ‘Truth’, a successful anti-smoking organisation from the United States, has become well known for its youth campaigns through website design, social media hashtags and contemporary activist approach to increasing trends such as vaping. 


Post C: Interview – The world of tobacco for Indonesian women.

By April Jiang

Tobacco has formed many personal relationships with the citizens of Indonesia. In particular has become an activity that determines and signifies one’s masculinity, prominently evident in visible street advertising and accessible statistics. However, its relationship and impact on the female population is hidden and goes unnoticed, as a result of traditional norms and its disproving relationship with women. Through primary research I was able to grasp and voice two distinct perspectives of women in Indonesia and the contrasting impact tobacco has had on their lives.

Rhya, a 42-year-old mother who works at a café/bar in Yogyakarta reveals the reality of a tobacco inflicted life. She exemplifies what Indonesian culture would identify as an “abnormal” (Barraclough & Morrow 2010) female smoker. Throughout her story, she identifies three points of contact with tobacco. The first being her father, herself and her son. This reveals the inescapable grasp of the past, present and future relationships with tobacco that exists within her family. In this modern age, women tend to have more work, especially as a mother, “both reproductive and productive duties” (Mandracchia 2013) causing distress. Rhya exemplifies a common reason for smoking; a temporary relief of her stress and struggles – in other words, the ability to control her emotions which has become a “highly valued attribute in traditional Indonesian culture” (Barraclough & Morrow 2010). In response to her life experiences, she believes that the national percentile of female smokers has increased. Although her father was a smoker and passed away from a heart attack, she acknowledges the inevitable bond formed with tobacco, hence forfeits rebuking her son of smoking. It is to this degree that tobacco has become a significant part of Indonesian culture and exceeds the likeliness of eradicating its influence.

(Aditama 2002)
  From this table, we can see that more women wish to stop and have tried to stop smoking in comparison to men. This potentially conveys the inescapable grasp tobacco has on women like Rhya, who are trapped by the influences and exposure to tobacco.

On the other hand, Bivy, a 19-year-old female student of Muhammadiyah University, embodies a juxtaposing life of a detached relationship with tobacco. She is a non-smoker who lives with a non-smoking family. She is an example of a citizen who grew up with non-smoking areas and potentially symbolises a hopeful percentile of the population. Through conversation it was revealed that a rare amount of her friends are smokers resulting her to believe that the national percentile of female smokers has reduced, opposing to Rhya’s opinion. Bivy’s reasoning for her disinterest in smoking provides a potential prospect to reduce the numbers of female smokers. It was her focus on health and beauty that causes her reluctance to participate in what the nation would misinterpret as “culture” to the community. The lifestyle of Bivy could be interpreted as one that reflects the progressive work of organisations that promote smoking prevention and limit tobacco exposure. This includes the Heart Foundation whom are active in promoting tobacco free areas in factories and educational institutions, and Lembaga M3, whom are involved in anti-smoking activities (Barraclough 1999).

It is important to understand that a low percentage of female smokers does not excuse a dismissal of attention and research. “Despite the low percentages, at least two million Indonesian women are smoking” (Barraclough 1999). In reflection to the distinct conversations recorded, there is a strong contrast in perspectives of two very different women of Indonesia, Rhya and her family being immersed and Bivvy being untouched by tobacco. Through a youthful perspective, it is evident that the increasing work of anti-smoking organisations has potentially produced hope for the nation and future generations, and ultimately may lead Indonesia to become a safer community.


Aditama, T. J. 2002, ‘Smoking problem in Indonesia,’ Medical Journal of Indonesia, electronic data set, viewed 19 December 2019,


Barraclough, S. 1999, ‘Women and Tobacco in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, Volume 8, Issue 3, viewed 19 December 2019,


Barraclough, S., Morrow, M. 2010, ‘Gender equity and tobacco control: bringing masculinity into focus,’ Global Health promotion, volume 17, issue 1, viewed 19 December 2019,


Mandracchia, F. J.  2013, ‘Indonesian Tobacco: A consumer culture of exploitation,’ Proceedings of a great day, volume 2012, issue 25, viewed 19 December 2019,


Post C: Interview about Tobacco Usage in Yogyakarta and Indonesian Culture with Adibah

Adibah works as a student tutor at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY) for the Igov team. UMY is a smoke free campus that has a zero tobacco tolerance for staff and students. I began the interview by asking Adibah: “Do you smoke tobacco/cigarettes with your friends and if you do, why do you smoke?”


“I don’t smoke, but my father and my brother does. So I am indirectly influenced by the smoke at home. Everyday I breathe in their smoke. 

I felt as though Adibah was concerned by her second hand consumption of smoke in the home since she knows about the negative long term effects of tobacco usage. 


“My brother only started smoking last year”


“Oh, why?”


“In Indonesia we have service, like community service, helping with the campus. He was sent to a rural area in Brebes. Brebes is one of the regions in Central Java, 8 hours away from here. The society in Central Java loves smoking so he needed to be used to smoke when they have the general meeting in the village. When he came back home he started to smoke, but not in the house only on campus probably, so my mum won’t know that he smokes. He is not educated about the harms of smoking.” 


“So why don’t you smoke?”


“In Indonesian habit, the woman sees smoking as not normal for herself. Whenever I am wearing my hijab (and I am seen smoking) it will seem like I am a bad person and non law abiding.” 

I smiled at this, thinking to myself that Adibah is such a sweet person the connotation of her being bad if she smoked was amusing to me. I explained: “I am smiling because it’s funny to me that culture makes people believe certain things, you know what I mean?”

Adibah giggled,

“In Indonesia there are a lot of myths that are believed by Indonesians that are wrong but people still believe it. Like for a child, it says that if children are not back home by 5pm they will be taken by the ghost to another world. Lots of children still believe this myth.”

The cultural stigmas around tobacco consumption in Indonesia has allowed for Adibah to have a healthier lifestyle in comparison to the males around her. Attending UMY has also let her work and study in a place that is smoke free, which protects her from second hand consumption in the workplace however not at home around the smoke of her brother and father. 

Photo of Adibah taken outside of Move On café in Yogyakarta, Indonesia