Post A: Time for Change

With all the previous blog posts, it has been established that tobacco culture is strong and thriving in Indonesia. Designers are the driving force of success for all industries; creating a product, and marketing it to be desirable in the eyes of all. Indonesia is at the mercy of tobacco companies, with limited laws and regulations against advertising, product placement and loosely enforced age restrictions (Amul and Pangestu, 2018).

The most powerful way to enter the market barrier is by ‘consumer preference’ usually created by advertising and promotion (Shepherd, 1985). These companies have mastered a method to change the existing consumer preferences by conducting market research, designing sophisticated advertising and partaking in promotional activities, which in turn builds them publicity in the media. Companies like Gudang Garam and Djarum, claim they do not target youth, their advertising suggests otherwise through displaying an ideal lifestyle. Young men, dressed in smart suits, fawn over women as the voice over says, “I rule the world because I live Bold”, this is one example, that has lead young Indonesian boys to associate smoking with masculinity (Tjandra, 2018). Advertisements saturate the streets of Ambon, covering shop fronts, houses and billboards; a study found that in most places in Indonesia cigarettes are sold within 300m of schools, Lucky Strike even sells flavoured cigarettes and can be sold individually making it more affordable for children (Boseley, Collyns, Lamb and Dhillon, 2018).

LA Bold Commercial, 2018

This toxic but well-designed industry is similar to the alcoholic beverages in Australia. Unlike Indonesia the government has taken a stronger action to counteract it. Recognising that alcoholic advertising was reaching children, the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code was improved. This is as a reaction to an increase in non-traditional media, like on demand, parental complaints over ad placement and pressure from policy makers (Baker, 2017). Just as tobacco companies offer scholarships and sponsor community events; alcoholic companies in Australia sponsors sport, music and cultural events (Davey, 2017).

Designers need to be activists and radical shifts are needed to allow any form of activism to evolve” (Cintio, 2014).

With a range of stakeholders to please, designers are faced with a difficult challenge. The same market research and sophisticated tactics these companies utilise need to be adopted to subvert ‘consumer preference’ once again. A successful form of design activism is culture jamming, created in 1980 seeking to critique and subvert consumer culture (DeLaure and Fink, 2017). Similarly, to a worksheet from ‘the Healthy Lungs Project’, culture jamming should be more widely used for tobacco and alcohol advertising, showing and teaching people what is actually ‘cool’.


Amul, G. and Pangestu, T. 2018, Big Tobacco’s smoke and mirrors in ASEAN – Policy Forum, Policy Forum. viewed 29 January 2019, <;.

Baker, R. 2017, New rules on placement of alcohol ads loom large, Adnews. viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

Boseley, S., Collyns, D., Lamb, K. and Dhillon, A. 2018, How children around the world are exposed to cigarette advertising, the Guardian. viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

Davey, M. 2017, Australia failing to stop alcohol ads reaching children, experts say, the Guardian. viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

DeLaure, M. and Fink, M. 2017, Culture jamming, New York University Press, New York.

Di Cintio, L. 2014, ‘Design Activism: Developing models, modes and methodologies of practice’, IDEA Journal, vol. 19, pp. 2-4.

LA Bold 2018, I Live Bold – Official TVC, viewed 29 January 2019, <;.

Shepherd P., 1985, Transnational corporations and the international cigarette industry. In: Newfarmer R, editor. Profits, progress and poverty. Case studies of international industries in Latin America. University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame; Indiana.

Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation. viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

Post C: Religion and Smoking

In Ambon, the population is composed of 59% Protestant, 39% Muslim and 2% Catholic displaying a clear division among the people (Ansori et. al., n.d.). In each village, their religious building is the most beautiful structure and displays a great amount of wealth which is highly juxtaposed with their homes. I had the opportunity to sit down with a local doctor, Anastassia (Tasya) and discuss the role religion plays within Ambon society. Tasya explained, “the people will give all their money to the church even if they don’t have much,” she continued by saying, “Ambonese culture is strong in religion, their daily life is wired on religion” (2019, pers. comm., 26 January).

The riots in 1999, showcased a division among the Ambonese people, the main factor separating and identifying them is their religion. Although all religions in Ambon live in harmony today, people still identify by their ethno religion and showcase this by living in distinct Christian or Islamic villages (Al Qurtuby, 2013).

Islam is based on five key principles, one in which is the ‘protection of the individual’, therefore any products or forms of consumption that jeopardise the health or life of an individual is considered against the teachings of Islam (WHO, 1999). This explains why alcohol is prohibited and although tobacco did not exist in the time of revelations, by analogy tobacco is one of those products that causes harm. Similarly, Christianity preaches “your bodies are temples… therefore honour God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) (Holy Bible, n.d.).

In Indonesia 2017, a joint press conference was held of religious leaders representing Islam, Christianity and Hinduism and economic experts to denounce smoking and branded it forbidden in their respective religions (Jakarta, 2017).

In Ambon, religion is a high priority, the tobacco culture has an inescapable presence that even religious teachings have not had an effect. With a disregard of their beliefs, 67.4% of males and 4.5% of females in Indonesia smoke (WHO, 2018); underscoring that in theory, there is a relationship between smoking and religion but the smoking culture is strong in Ambon. In a qualitative study carried out in Indonesia, 2015, some non-smokers said their religion reinforced their non-smoking behaviour (Byron et al., 2015) Tasya explains that religion may persuade individuals not to smoke on a personal level, but not on a community level (2019, pers. comm., 26 January).

Reference List

Al Qurtuby, S. 2013, Peacebuilding in Indonesia: Christian–Muslim Alliances in Ambon Island, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, vol 24, no 3, pp.349-367,.

Ansori, M., Sukandar, R., Peranto, S., Karib, F., Cholid, S. and Rasyid, I. n.d., Post-conflict segregation, violence, and reconstruction policy in Ambon,.

Byron, M., Cohen, J., Gittelsohn, J., Frattaroli, S., Nuryunawati, R. and Jernigan, D. 2015, Influence of religious organisations’ statements on compliance with a smoke-free law in Bogor, Indonesia: a qualitative study, BMJ Open, vol 5, no 12, p.e008111,.

Holy Bible n.d., .

Jakarta, C. 2017, Religious leaders in Indonesia come together to say that smoking is forbidden, urging for higher tobacco taxes | Coconuts Jakarta, Coconuts. viewed 29 January 2019, <;.

World Health Organisation 1999, Meeting on Tobacco and Religion, viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

World Health Organisation 2018, Tobacco Control in Indonesia, viewed 30 January 2019, <>.

Post D: Women’s Role In this Viscous Cycle of Tobacco Addiction

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive (drifting), a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences. Dérives involve playful-constructive behaviour and awareness of pyschogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.”  (Debord, 1956)

The idea of walking around aimlessly is a design technique which encourages one to take more notice of their surroundings as indicated by Debord’s Theory of the Dérive (Debord, 1956). To truly take in and understand the city of Ambon, a similar action is needed to be carried out. The direction and focus of this dérive was on tobacco and its relation to culture. Whilst getting lost, the most notable characteristic involved every street or alley way that housed at least one little convenient store. With the owner usually hidden behind the counter or relaxing on the fence out front watching people as they passed by, each of these stores contained a glass box, filled with various cigarette brands.

The tobacco industry is one of the largest industries in Indonesia, which also offers the second most employment after the government (Reynolds, 1999). Majority of labourers in tobacco factories are female because men are more involved with trade unions and tend to strike which can hold back production (Marwati, 2016). While walking I did not come across a single female smoker and during an interview with one of the hotel staff, he mentioned there was only one female worker who smoked. Smoking is an inescapable part of Indonesian culture, their male friends, husbands, fathers and brothers smoke but it is still culturally unacceptable for women to smoke. According to a survey carried out in 2016, there are 2.1% females and 64.9% males who smoke in Indonesia (WHO, 2017) which reflects my observations made while ‘drifting’.

final map-01

The above map of Ambon city, displays all the stores I walked past that sold tobacco products. The dots represent the female vendors whilst the cross sign symbolises the male owners; through first hand investigation it is evident that, predominantly females sell cigarettes. Moreover, they were simultaneously looking after their children whilst working, this demonstrates how women passively feed into the cycle of tobacco consumption and young children watch as their mothers say ‘ok’.

In Indonesian culture, it is nearly impossible for women to escape tobacco culture, making them vulnerable to passive smoke related diseases and are at risk of becoming a single parent if their spouse becomes sick due to their addiction (Rosemary, 2018). Women make and sell these products, and are put in a difficult position, passively contributing to the tobacco culture and are expected to act virtuous for the sake of their pregnancy but inevitably are exposed to it in the end.

Reference List

Debord, G. 1956,  Theory of the Dérive and other situationist writings on the city, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona: Distribution, ACTAR, Barcelona.

Marwati, 2016, Gender Dynamics in Tobacco Industry in Indonesia, University Gadjah Mada, viewed 17 January 2019, <>.

Reynolds, C. 1999, Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”, Tobacco Control, vol 8, no 1, pp.85-88.

Rosemary, R. 2018, Forbidden Smoke, Inside Indonesia, viewed 17 January 2019, <>.

World Health Organisation 2017, WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2017, Country Profile Indonesia, Switzerland.

Post B: Smoking Cessation Applications

In 2013, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, a government organisation, created my QuitBuddy; a free personalised app designed to help users quit smoking (Department of Health | National Tobacco Campaign, 2019). The top-down approach is government funded and was created by a large interdisciplinary team composed of innovators, communication directors, strategists, managers, account managers and producers (My QuitBuddy, 2013). They saw an opportunity to create a support tool that would be with the user 24/7. The app targets rational, emotional and social functionality and has even created a gamification aspect (Campaign Brief, 2012).


Apps including and similar to my QuitBuddy are limited to simple communication; working on text-based programs. However, it offers many advantages which includes goal setting, daily reminders, progress tracking and self-monitoring. Particularly my QuitBuddy features reasons for quitting, recorded messages and photos from loved ones. It is a platform that shares success stories, distraction tips and celebrates milestones (quitnow, 2015). By presenting the risk factors of health and financial costs and benefits, the app succeeds to accommodate to most users as evidence shows younger smokers are concerned with monetary rewards of quitting whilst older populations care for the health factor (Paay, Kjeldskov, Skov, Lichon, & Rasmussen, 2015).



my Quit Buddy, Campaign Brief, 2012


Findings towards the effectiveness of this particular app is limited however US National Institute of Health undertook a systematic review of smartphone applications for smoking cessation. It is understood that applications such as my QuitBuddy has created a health intervention treatment that is more accessible than ever before (Haskins et al., 2017). Previously, face-to-face communication was the ideal way for treatment, but its scalability is not as wide reached as mobile access (Raw & McNeil, 1994). Through text-based support it alleviates problems such as fees, portability, connectivity, scheduling and time issues (Keoleian, Polcin and Galloway, 2015).


Weerakone’s thesis discovered hundreds of apps, in which 82 qualified for review; the few high performing apps were ones like my QuitBuddy who partnered with health or government agencies when critiqued against the Clinical Practice Guidelines (Weerakone, 2016). The most effective apps combined a calendar with a calculator in a colourful format making self-monitoring easy to digest; my QuitBuddy succeeded in this area by using infographics (Weerakone, 2016).


screen shot 2019-01-11 at 4.33.47 pm

Flow chart of the review process, Weerakone, 2016


In 2013, it was calculated that there were 200,000 downloads on iOS and Android devices which amounts to approximately 7% of all Australian smokers but more importantly; it was recorded 39% of smokers who have used my QuitBuddy managed to remain abstinent after six months (My QuitBuddy, 2013). Therefore, it is evident that this particular design intervention has been successful and fulfilled their project brief intention. It is also important to be aware of all the other applications that are available and are not made to the correct standard to achieve a positive outcome for users and communities.


Reference List

Department of Health | National Tobacco Campaign 2019, viewed 10 January 2019, <;.

Haskins, B. L., Lesperance, D., Gibbons, P., & Boudreaux, E. D., 2017, A systematic review of smartphone applications for smoking cessation. Translational behavioural medicine7(2), 292-299.

Keoleian, V., Polcin, D. and Galloway, G. 2015, Text Messaging for Addiction: A Review, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol 47, no 2, pp.158-176.

My QuitBuddy aims to help people quit smoking 2012, Campaign Brief Australia. viewed 11 January 2019, <;.

My QuitBuddy 2013, DRIVENxDESIGN. viewed 11 January 2019, <;.

Paay, J., Kjeldskov, J., Skov., M.B., Lichon, L., & Rasmussen, S. 2015, Understanding individual differences for tailored smoking cessation apps. Retrieved from

quitnow – My QuitBuddy 2015, viewed 11 January 2019, <;.

Raw, M. and McNeillL, A. 1994, The prevention of tobacco-related disease, Addiction, vol 89, no 11, pp.1505-1509.

Weerakone, S. 2016, Examining the effects of an online intervention promoting isometric exercise in smokers, University of London, vol. 1, p47-56.