The designers have a big role in every aspect of everything in this world big or small. The role designers play in success of tobacco industry in Indonesia is the design of the small easily transportable cigarette packaging, minimalistic logo design allowing cheaper printing, the very strong and straight forward large advertisement that is literally everywhere. As you can see, below are some images of the advertisements I came across in my adventures around Ambon city. All of the signs stick out so much and don’t really look like tobacco advertisements unless you know there are. Some of the slogans on the advertisements tell you to smoke by saying “Go ahead”, “Never Quit”.
Designers can make change and be an ethical influence through design activism to stop or minimise tobacco use by doing what UTS did and continue on with what we started in Ambon city, with all the murals and designed education and safe spaces designed for non-smokers. Designers can change the world; we just need to show them a different perspective. But the designers have to tackle a lot of economic, social, and political problems to do this to the extent that it should be carried out. One the hardest challenges in Indonesia to get people to stop smoking is changing the people’s views and behaviours around the topic of tobacco. These people have grown up with everyone smoking around them for years and years, even to this date. It is not like Australians behaviour around tobacco how it’s expensive, not advertised, no logos, big warnings on packets and a lot of laws around smoking. It almost feels like the complete opposite in Indonesia.
Throughout these past 6 days in Ambon I have noticed a large contrast between Australian and Indonesian cigarette advertisement. For this specific blog post I have taken the time to observe and document all the cigarette advertisements I have identified on a 2.8 KM walk around the city of Ambon. At first, I didn’t notice any cigarette advertisement at all until I went into a store and saw the branded cigarette packages. I discovered that the advertisements had been in my face the whole time and the Ambon city streets are covered with them, most streets on my walk had a different type of advertisements every 15 metres (refer to the hand drawn map below). As seen in the below images the advertisement comes in many shapes and sizes, and at a glance don’t even look like tobacco advertisement.
I was so shocked to see how direct some of the advertisements were. As seen in the images below, you can see that the tobacco company have designed the ads to be so minimalistic yet so powerful. Some of the advertisements literally say, “Go ahead”, telling people to smoke and reassuring them that it is okay to smoke. The one that shocked me the most was “Never Quit” by Surya PRO, this to me is so wrong in many ways, I really do hope that the Indonesian government follows the Australian government and makes it illegal to advertise anything related to tobacco.
In 2012, Indonesia set a new tobacco advertisement regulation, limiting the advertising, promotion and sponsorship controls (Swandew and Freeman 2017). But as seen in these photographs the advertisements are still everywhere and very direct. What also surprised me is the percentage of the advertisement display that needs to be a warning, for a lot of the images it was hard to see the warning sign and for some the warning did not even look like a warning. Another thing I found very interesting on my walk was that in one of the main streets of the city where the schools and banks were in, there was no advertisement for tobacco and no were tobacco was sold other then an old lady with a basket of cigarette packets at a bus stop. Overall this observation session was a big culture shock for me and I am glad to be a part of a large mural painting in the centre of the city with anti-tobacco advertisement.
Astuti PAS and Freeman B 2017, “It is merely a paper tiger.” Battle for increased tobacco advertising regulation in Indonesia, viewed 17 January 2019, <https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/7/9/e016975.full.pdf >.
Reynolds, Catherine 1999, Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”, viewed 17 January 2019,
Fariz Nurwidya , Fumiyuki Takahashi , Hario Baskoro , Moulid Hidayat , Faisal Yunus , Kazuhisa Takahashi 2014, Strategies for an effective tobacco harm reduction policy in Indonesia, viewed 18 January 2019, <https://www.e-epih.org/upload/pdf/epih-36-e2014035.pdf>.
The Tobacco Plain Packaging act 2011 was a top-down initiative which was funded and created by the Australian government to minimise the tobacco usage in Australia. I chose to talk about this design imitative because in my opinion is the best design related initiative to tobacco control to this date, other than some very graphic and intensely emotional TV commercials tied in with the plain packaging initiative. Another reason why I believe it was so successful and interesting to me is because it goes against basic design ethics, this is a product they have redesigned to make consumers NOT want to buy the product, which to me as a product designer is very interesting and creative to say the least.
The new re-design of the packaging is very basic but also very powerful. Some key features of the new redesign in 2012 are:
- Bright yellow and black health warning sign.
- Very unappealing dark green colour.
- No brand logo.
- Large white descriptive text (slogans).
- Graphic images of health risks related to tobacco usage.
It was hard to find some legitimate evidence to the effectiveness of this initiative other then some statistics dated up to 2016 from the Department of health ‘Smoking prevalence rates’ page. But with some primary research and observations over the years I have discovered that the packaging has stopped people from starting up smoking because of the intense imagery when looking at the package. I have also seen it stop a number of people from smoking because of the social impact caring the disgusting packaging everywhere has on them.
Some issues and challenges the Australian Government encountered in 2012 during the implementation of this act was a lawsuit from the tobacco companies which the Australian Government won. This was actually great lawsuit for the world because other countries continued in Australia’s footsteps because of the fact that Australia won, in which I do hope the Indonesian government does also follow. Other initiatives not design related (seen in the Tobacco Control Timeline) that were tied in with this act that also really helped Australia become less inclined to use tobacco are, increased tobacco taxes, and a lot of non-smoking areas and making it illegal to smoke within 4 to 10 meters from a restaurant. All of these Australian initiatives design related or not are all very important and should be followed or beaten by all other counties of the world.
The Department of health, Tobacco Control Timeline, viewed 10 January 2019,
Liberty works, WTO plain packaging verdict is an assault on liberty, viewed 10 January 2019,
University of Melbourne 2018, Big Tobacco vs Australia’s Plain Packing, viewed 11 January 2019
The Department of health, Tobacco Plain Packaging Evaluation, Viewed 11January 2019,
The Department of health, Smoking Prevalence Rates, Viewed 11January 2019,