Like many men in Indonesia, Bayu Topan, faced constant pressure to take up smoking throughout his youth. Having grown up around his grandfather and uncle, who were regular smokers, Bayu was exposed to cigarettes from a young age. Unlike the men in his family, however, Bayu never picked up the habit. He tried smoking for one week at University but it never caught on.
“I tried one week with my friends, my friend was also the first time with me. We try one week smoking, but I cannot stand for that, but my friend’s until now, are still smoking.”
These kinds of stories are not uncommon and reflect the current statistics within Indonesia.
According to the survey on Basic Health Research (RISKESDAS) 2018, approximately 62.9% of the male population in Indonesia smoke daily (WHO Report, 2019). This stems from a societal pressure for men to smoke, something which Bayu often experienced.
“Because I don’t smoke, people say to me like, yeah you are not a man”.
The problem also lies with the younger generations taking up smoking. In an article about smoking in Indonesia, Tjandra Aditama notes that smoking habits can start quite young: “Other problem is a fact that smoking habit start quite in early age in Indonesia.” (Aditama, 2002)
Ashamed of the prevalence of smoking in Indonesia, especially among younger children, Bayu commented on the common sights he would see in his home town in East Java.
“I saw children like 5 years old, like holding smoke just like expert, smoking. Yeah, so embarrassing… So many, not only just one. Parents are so proud that kids can smoke.”
With smoking being such a large-scale issue in Indonesia, it’s hard to know where to start in trying to help those with tobacco addictions.
One approach, backed by doctors and healthcare professionals at Puskesmas Berbah in Yogyakarta is to use anti-smoking and health campaigns to educate the public on the detrimental effects of smoking. Dr. Evy Diana Apriliani said in her presentation to students from the University of Technology Sydney that: “Smoking is a complex and global problem. Its impact to health is undeniable.” (Apriliani, 2019). Dr. Apriliani also showed examples of health campaigns being used in Indonesia:
Bayu mentioned that he also believes educating the public about smoking, is important.
“I think, make awareness about smoking to the people, that’s more important, education to the people.”
Aditama, T. 2002, Smoking problem in Indonesia, Medical Journal of Indonesia, vol. 11, no. 56, pp. 56 – 65.
Apriliani, E. 2019, ‘Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking’, Puskesmas Berbah Presentation, PowerPoint Presentation, Puskesmas Berbah, Yogyakarta, presented 7 December 2019.
Kementerian Kesehatan Republik Indonesia 2018, Hasil Utama RISKESDAS, viewed 17 December 2019,
Puskesmas Berbah, 2019, Puskesmas Berbah, Yogyakarta, viewed 19 December 2019,
World Health Organization, 2018, Factsheet 2018 Indonesia, Regional Office for South-East Asia, viewed 24 November 2019,
World Health Organization, 2019, WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic 2019, WHO, viewed 5 December 2019,