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.
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, <https://ejournal.unisba.ac.id/index.php/mediator/article/view/2677/pdf>.
Fibre2Fashion, 2012, Tobacco Dyes, viewed 19 December 2019, <https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/6580/tobacco-dyes>.
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.