Post C: This is Tobacco Manifest

In the inescapable surroundings of secondhand smoke, inundation of advertising and ash trays at almost every dinner table, there are flickers of hope. My flicker of hope came in the form of my conversation with Aisha Putri, an 18 year old international studies student I met by chance in Malioboro as I asked her for some directions. 

Every single day, over 15 million children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes (Salih, S.K. Mukhtar, B.I. 2011) and Aisha is one of those unfortunately making this statistic a harsh reality. All of the significant male figures in her life are smokers, the most alarming of them all being her younger brother who is only 16. Aisha said she thought he would never be a smoker but that was until she caught him with his friends. A study into the behaviour of young male smokers going to school in Semarang, Indonesia, outlines that they are 4 times more likely to smoke if their best friend does (Smet, B. et al 1999) and this is the case for Aisha’s younger brother. 

I then asked how would she feel if she could make her father, brother, uncles and cousins stop smoking. The way in which her face lit up and body relaxed as she said “It would make me very happy” demonstrates just how imperative change is in Indonesia’s tobacco culture. Her first reason being the pollution it causes. 

“People don’t consider their surroundings and just do it everywhere, even if there’s a kid around them.” 

We then discussed how tobacco advertising is banned in Australia, and despite the fact that she would be very thankful if that was the case in Indonesia, she immediately saw why there are no such regulations. Aisha contemplated for a short moment, but came to a conclusion that the advertising is there to take advantage of people, to take their money and to continue the dominance of the tobacco industry in Indonesia. 

The manifestation of tobacco advertising in Aisha’s life is alarming. She said that every chance the tobacco companies get, they take. From TV, social media, in restaurants, shopfronts, billboards… you name it, it’s there. To capture attention of consumers, visual recall is vital, specifically in the form of corporate symbols, visual identity and slogans (Mallia, K. L. 2009), and is utilised by Indonesian tobacco giants to consistently take hold of their consumer. 

My invaluable conversation with Aisha cemented alarming research I wanted to believe wasn’t true. Listening to her first hand experience of a lifetimes worth of inundation in Indonesia’s tobacco culture provided me with a significant starting point to work from, in order to begin to design out the wicked tobacco problem.

Aisha, to the right of myself, with 2 of her friends in Malioboro.


Mallia, K. L. 2009, ‘From the sacred to the profane: a critical analysis of the changing nature of religious imagery in advertising’, Journal of media and religion, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 172-190. 

Salih, S.K. Mukhtar, B.I. 2011, ‘Effects of passive smoking on children’s health’, Sudan journal of medical sciences, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 131-136. 

Smet, B. Maes, L. De Clerca, L. Haryanti, K. Winarno, R.D. 1999, ‘Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 186-191. 

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