Post A: Disguising Promotion as Goodwill

In Indonesia, the tobacco industry plays a key role in influencing not only the general public but also politicians and policymakers through so-called ‘CSR’ activities which are cleverly disguised methods of increasing brand reputation. These activities include sponsoring students with many scholarships which would make them feel indebted to these companies and it also improves public perception of the tobacco industry. This has allowed the tobacco industry to become a major part of Indonesian society which makes it difficult for tobacco control lobbyists such as Vital Strategies to tackle the Wicked Problem of Tobacco. (Crosby et al. 2019)

The tobacco industry’s form of corporate social responsibility has been criticised by many as masked tobacco promotion instead. Tobacco control supporters contend with this by claiming that the tobacco industry is not doing its part in adequately raising awareness around the dangers of smoking especially when it comes to the harms of passive smoking.

The least transparent of these activities are festivals and even religious events which are sponsored by the tobacco industry as this allows them to curry favour with the general public as well as the government. This also allows further strengthening the cultural significance and sense of nationalism associated with tobacco as “by getting involved in Indonesian socio-cultural activities, the tobacco companies have presented their tobacco products and smoking as the nation’s cultural heritage.” (Tandilittin & Luetge 2015)

Aspiring designers are also made complicit in this form of ‘CSR’ through the Djarum Black Innovation Award which started in 2007 and gives young innovators a platform to submit their ideas for a prize. This has allowed the promotion of their cigarette brand “Djarum Black” in another explicitly implicit manner. (Tandilittin & Luetge 2015)

Image result for djarum black innovation award

All of this allows for establishing a brand identity that positions them as ‘cool’ in their major demographic, the youth. No matter how much they try to deny that they are not targeting this demographic, the following advertisements speak for themselves; portraying idealised lifestyles that celebrate youth, culture and innovation.

(Dunhill, 2013)
(Dunhill 2019)

However, this form of overtly covert promotion is not limited to Indonesia as the tobacco industry has also exploited loopholes in Australia through sponsoring fashion design events. (Byrnes 2002) This idea of ‘cool’ that the tobacco industry has been promoting for decades aims to captivate a young audience and has successfully enraptured generation after generation; you do not have to look further than the vaping epidemic. However, hope is not lost as design activism and the engagement of all stakeholders passionate about tobacco control will be the key players in tackling the Wicked Problem of Tobacco in Indonesia and globally.

Stakeholder map that aims to highlight key players and their roles and capabilities.


Byrnes, H. 2002, Fashion’s smoking gun: top designers’ functions sponsored by cigarette company, The Sydney Morning Herald,11 August, viewed 16 December 2019, <>.

Crosby, A., Dunn, J.L., Aditjondro, E. & Rachfiansyah. 2019, ‘Tobacco Control Is a Wicked Problem: Situating Design Responses in Yogyakarta and Banjarmasin’, She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, vol. 5, no. 4, viewed 7December 2019, <>.

Dunhill 2013, Dunhill Fine Cut MILD Advertisement, video recording, YouTube, viewed 16 December 2019, <>.

Dunhill 2019, Iklan Dunhill Mild Live Learn Lead, video recording, YouTube, viewed 16 December 2019, <>.

Tandilittin, H. & Luetge, C. 2015, ‘CSR activity of tobacco companies in Indonesia: Is it a genuine social responsibility?’, Online Journal of Health Ethics, vol. 11, no. 3, viewed 16 December 2019, <>.

Post C: Riso Printing, Pseudoscience and Smoking?

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.

Image from Kunci copystation’s instagram (2019)

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, <>.

Meyersohn, J. 2011, ‘Researcher Pumps Tobacco Smoke Onto Child’s Skin’, ABC NEWS, 7 September, viewed 13 December 2019, <>.

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 <>.

POST D: A smoker’s rite of passage

Indonesia ranks as one of the highest countries for smoking and tops this in South East Asia, this can be credited to the fact that Indonesia has not ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and is one of the few countries to have not done so. The reasoning behind this is simply economical as their tobacco industry is one of the largest in the world, alongside the ingrained cultural significance it presently holds. Smoking is also a very gendered and almost performative action in Indonesia, as there is a very pervasive idea that smoking is ‘manly’; with non-smoking men being seen an ‘feminine’ by adolescent smokers (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2007).

A study conducted by Ng, Weinehall and Ohman in 2007 focused on rural regions to collect data on tobacco trends there, their focus area was Purworejo which is located in the south of Central Java. A similar study was also conducted in the capital of Central Java, Semarang. (Smet et al. 1999)Both of these studies produced results that indicate smoking is a bonding activity for male friendships and that they smoke the most in groups.  In another regional study conducted in Cibeureum in West Java (Ganiwijaya et al. 1995), they found that among the 13,863 people surveyed, 83.7% of the men indicated that they are current smokers and only 4.9% of the women indicated that they currently smoked. 

Generally speaking, in Indonesia, smoking is also a rite of passage for boys as it has been traditionally observed as a recognition of attaining manhood during circumcision ceremonies. This directly ties their concept of “masculinity” to smoking which has been indicated by the aforementioned studies. The tobacco industry does not help with the issue of smoking in young boys as ““loosies,” or single cigarettes, can be picked up for just a few cents and are often sold in stalls set up outside schools.” (Barclay 2017)

This is a map I developed that shows where the Tobacco stores and schools are in Yogyakarta based on information provided by google maps:

(addendum: travelling to Yogyakarta made me realise that tobacco is even easier to purchase and there are countless stores selling tobacco products which just goes to show how crucial primary research and mapping is when engaging with design for social change)

Despite the sale of cigarettes being banned to people under the age of eighteen, there is no penalty or punishment surrounding this and thus the rule is seldom observed. In addition to this, the tobacco industry has utilised advertisements which, while it claims do not target youth, clearly would be attractive to the demographic. The following advertisement by L.A. clearly encapsulates my point and serves as the conclusive piece for this post:

I live bold (L.A. Zone 2018)


Barclay, A. 2017, ‘In Marlboro’s last frontier, a smokers’ rights group is defending the “human right” to light up’, Quartz, 18 February, viewed 26 November 2019, <>.

Ganiwijaya, T., Sjukrudin, E., De Backer, G., Suhana, D., Brotoprawiro, S. & Sukandar, H., 1995, ‘Prevalence of cigarette smoking in a rural area of West Java, Indonesia’ Tobacco Control, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 335 – 337.

LA Zone 2018, I Live Bold, video recording, YouTube, viewed 26 November 2019, <>. 

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health Education Resource, vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 794 – 804.

Prabandari, Y.S. & Dewi, A. 2016, ‘How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students’, Global Health Action, vol. 9, no. 1, viewed 25 November 2019, <>.

Smet, B., Maes, L., De Clercq, 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.

POST B- What does it mean to DrinkWise™?

DrinkWise is an alcohol industry backed organisation that commenced in 2005, it has received some government funding since its conception, however, the most crucial aspect to note is the fact that it is run by the alcohol industry and not the government as that recontextualises its purposes and intentions. Prior to my research I had no idea that DrinkWise was not a purely government run scheme and it clarified some of the arguably dubious intentions behind a few of their campaigns. I have decided to analyse their ‘How to drink properly’ campaign which was targeted for my demographic: young adults ranging from 18-24 years of age.

DrinkWise’s ‘How to drink properly’ campaign consists mostly of social media and video tools which use stylish animated clips to encourage restrained alcohol consumption. However, this campaign has had mixed reviews with people lauding it for its clever stylistic choice to reach a greater audience while health experts have denounced it for glorifying drinking at all. I think the greatest oversight by this campaign has been the face of the campaign being a suave Bond-like figure which thus limits the audience to young men, excluding women from the discussion and allowing blatant sexist undertones, such as the following clip which was coupled with narration that suggests ‘drinking properly’ makes you sexually attractive to women.

DrinkWise (2016)

Furthermore, a study conducted by Australian Catholic University and the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2017), shows that after reviewing DrinkWise campaigns, of ‘How to drink properly’ was included, 52% of respondents perceived the meaning of ‘drinking properly’ as “Knowing your limits”, meanwhile 24% identified it as “looking cool when you drink”. Most importantly, this does raise an issue about whether the message of the campaign was delivered correctly as almost a quarter of respondents have linked “proper” drinking with “coolness”.

However, the use of ‘cool’ as a design element to garner attention is not unique to this campaign and I would argue is still a crucial tool in designing a campaign that generates effective and deep discussion as it can be a potent tool for generating deeper social change, if handled correctly. Needless to say, this campaign achieved widespread success and the controversy surrounding it actually incited further discussion that may not have been achieved had it not been so divisive. Despite all of this, according to a recent and extensive review of similar campaigns, they concluded that they “found no impact on alcohol consumption, consistent with the conclusion of a previous review that there should be modest expectations of behaviour change from such campaigns” (Young et al. 2018)

Thus, I would argue that this campaign was one that missed the mark on many occasions and would have benefited from a more diverse panel that especially included women in the discussion. As the research suggests, I would agree that this campaign has not changed binge drinking behaviours and it might even have some damaging impacts by re-defining ‘proper’ drinking as ‘cool’.


Carter, A. & Hall, W. 2014, ‘DrinkWise’s cynical campaign shouldn’t fool anyone’, The Conversation, 28 February, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.

DrinkWise 2016, How to drink properly, animation, YouTube, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.  

Jones, S.C., Hall, S. & Kypri, K. 2017, ‘Should I drink responsibly, safely or properly? Confusing messages about reducing alcohol-related harm’ PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 9, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.

Young, B., Lewis, S., Katikireddi, S.V., Bauld, L., Stead, M., Angus, K., Campbell, M., Hilton, S., Thomas, J., Hinds, K., Ashie, A. & Langley, T. 2018, ‘Effectiveness of mass media campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption and harm: a systematic review’, Oxford University Press: Alcohol and Alcoholism, vol. 53, no. 3, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.