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, <;.

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