Acong leads Kunci collective by offering many services from printing to educational resources in his small library. He operates a Risograph machine and does small print jobs from time to time. Currently Kunci copystation is completing a 2020 calendar for a client. My group decided to book with Acong to print key pieces of our project. During this time I asked him some questions about his smoking habits and beliefs around smoking.
Interviewing Acong from the Kunci Collective in Yogyakarta was very revelatory about the relationship Indonesian men have with smoking. He told me that he began smoking in elementary school which is something that shocked me since I thought those reports of children smoking were a touch exaggerated and more sensationalist reporting. However, after conducting more research which reported on the rates of youth smoking I found that it was not as far from the truth as I once believed. According to the WHO Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2014, 9.5% of students aged between 10 and 14 years old are smoking or have initiated smoking and this number grows to 50% for the next age group, adolescents aged 15-19 years old. (2015)
While looking over our projects he agreed that there shouldn’t be smoking at this level in Jalan Malioboro while he quipped that it still won’t stop him from smoking despite how dystopian the future may be. He also added after seeing some of our parodies of tobacco advertisements that “it’s not about man or something I smoke for enjoyment.” This is something which I have seen reflected more by smokers during my time here whereas non-smokers would be quicker to recognise the ties between perceived masculinity and smoking. Acong also shares the popular sentiment that the kretek (clove cigarettes) are better and has some form of nationalistic reverence towards them. But he added that he didn’t mean that they were particularly better for health but because the ingredients are “pure” it makes it better, he also argued that tobacco itself is not that harmful but it is the other ingredients that make it so.
To supplement this Acong later mentions a clinic that does a balur (scrub) treatment with so-called ‘Divine cigarettes’ which is used as a form of therapy. This surprised me so I decided to look further into it and unsurprisingly found quite a lot of misinformation and pseudo-scientific facts, the clincher being their insistence that a mercury compound in vaccinations causes autism. The treatment involves passing tobacco smoke through these “divine filters” which then envelope the patient and can heal anything from ADHD to stage 3 cancer. (Meyersohn 2011) While there is very little science backing this clinic, it is still in operation and its healing abilities are touted by many. This signals the need for raising awareness around the harms of tobacco and deconstructing the many myths that encompass this Wicked Problem.
Kunci Copystation 2019, ‘Februari tahun 2020’, Instagram, 4 December, viewed 10 December 2019, <https://www.instagram.com/p/B5pdX4TAdLX/>.
Meyersohn, J. 2011, ‘Researcher Pumps Tobacco Smoke Onto Child’s Skin’, ABC NEWS, 7 September, viewed 13 December 2019, <https://abcnews.go.com/Health/researcher-pumps-smoke-childs-skin/story?id=14450288>.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia 2015, Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) Indonesia Report, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, viewed 12 December 2019 <https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/205148>.