Post D: Tobacco industry dominates Indonesia

Known to have rudimentary tobacco control policies, Indonesia ranks highly among countries with the highest tobacco consumption statistics globally. With rampant and prevalent tobacco advertisement and promotion highly visible in all media, the lax enforcement of legislative policies in Indonesia has resulted in detrimental consequences to their peoples’ health. The only Asia-Pacific country that has not ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Indonesia’s public health standards suffer as the country’s government fails to protect its citizens. 

Vital Stategies #SuaraTanpaRokok campaign targeting tobacco promotion in Indonesia (Vital Strategies, 2018).

With tobacco advertising ‘among the most innovative and aggressive in the world’ (Sebayang et al., 2012), Indonesia is evidently dominated by the tobacco industry. As advertisements and promotion for tobacco fill the streets of cities like Yogyakarta, larger companies have relentlessly implemented brand imagery and advertisement on billboards, television, in magazines, sponsorship, events, activities, interactive media and more (Prabandari and Dewi, 2016). With so much focus on advertisement is has undeniably become inevitable that the increase of smoking prevalence among the younger generation in Indonesia has increased rapidly over the years. It is said that in 2007, 99.7% of the Indonesian youth revealed to have seen tobacco promotion on television, 87% on billboards, 76% on print mediums and 81% had attended at least one event sponsored by the tobacco industry within their lifetime (Prabandari and Dewi, 2016).

Map of Yogyakarta, visual representation of tobacco promotion exposure to the youth of Indonesia (Data from Prabandari and Dewi, 2016.)

Intertwined between the legal, political and economic factors and considerations of Indonesia, the power of tobacco production within Indonesia contributes to being one of the largest sources of government revenue after gas and oil (Nichter et al., 2008). Often advertised and claimed to be a part of the culture, the Indonesian tobacco industry is decentralised as the cigarette excise taxes are one of the most important sources of national revenue, generating approximately 28 trillion rupiah ($4.2 billion US dollars) in 2006 (Nichter et al., 2008). A lack of initiative to change policies to better tobacco control within the country, the Minister of Finance stated that he ‘sympathise[s] with the idea of getting people to stop smoking, but for now, the cost is too high’ (Nichter et al., 2008).

A change that will require a strong will power from the country’s leaders, it is now more than ever that Indonesia needs to create and enforce anti-tobacco policies and legislations on a national and international level. A push for behavioural change needs to be implemented in order to save the younger generations from the harmful impacts of nicotine addiction and tobacco dependence.


Achadi, A., Soerojo, W. and Barber, S. 2004, The relevance and prospects of advancing tobacco control in Indonesia, Science Direct, pp.333-350, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Indonesia – Tobacco Atlas 2019, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

McCall, C. 2014, Tobacco advertising still rife in southeast Asia, The Lancet, vol 384, no 9951, pp.1335-1336, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. and Nichter, M. 2008, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, Tobacco Control, vol 18, no 2, pp.98-107, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. and Nichter, M. 2008, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, Tobacco Control, vol 18, no 2, pp.98-107, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Prabandari, Y. and 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, p.30914, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Sebayang, S., Rosemary, R., Widiatmoko, D., Mohamad, K. and Trisnantoro, L. 2012, Better to die than to leave a friend behind: industry strategy to reach the young, Tobacco Control 2012, pp.370-372, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Vital Strategies 2018, #SuaraTanpaRokok, viewed 24 November 2019, <;.

Post B – Plain Impact: Australian Tobacco Control

Smoking tobacco is one of the most self-inflicted causes of death and disease in Australia to date. Despite having implemented a range of tobacco control policies since 1973 and being one of the first nations to announce the implementation of the tobacco plain packaging laws. 2010 introduced a packaging policy funded by the Australian government, implementing tobacco packaging requirements demanding all tobacco goods to display visual health warning images on 75% of the front surface area and 90% of the back surface area (Freeman, 2019). Specified for no company logos, trademarks or brand colours to be incorporated into packaging design, creative or branded aspects of company branding were replaced by product and brand descriptions identified in a grey standardised typeface and size (Freeman, Chapman and Rimmer, 2008)

Promotional Poster released by the World Health Organisation inspired by the Australian plain packaging requirements. Source: Freeman (2019)

An area of public health where the ultimate intentions and aim of targeted campaigns and policies are not so complex and nuanced like some other areas of public health. The clear intentions of protecting non-smokers, supporting smokers to quit, and reducing the numbers of new smokers, tobacco control in Australia has successfully achieved the desired results. Statistics confirm the decline in daily smokers between 1995 and 2017-18 to have decreased from 23.8% to 13.8% (4364.0.55.001 – National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18, 2019). Further studies have also proved that connections between the execution of the plain packaging in Australia and smoking Quitline calls, resulted in a 78% increase of calls to Quitline referred to the plain packaging initiative (Magnusson, 2014).

A definite public health campaign success story the initiative holds many positives, however, the unsettling fact that ‘there is simply no other legal product sold openly on the market today that has [the] same devastating human toll’ as smoking tobacco evokes my common sense as raises the question why (Freeman, 2019). Why aren’t we doing more to raise awareness and prevent smokers from choosing to slowly kill themselves?

Today, plain packaging laws have created their impact but it is now time for more action. As society has become accustomed to the unpleasant images and warnings, new campaigns or systems need to be implemented to re-create a new impact and deter smokers. I present this opinion based on my own personal observations and relationship as smoking seems to be even more relevant than not. Whether friends are social smokers or smoke routinely, knowledge of the ugly consequences of smoking is definitely identified, however, excused by the youth factor of being young and invincible or the idea that smoking is a means to socialise. 

Living in the 21st century in Australia the health effects and dangers of smoking are predominantly well known. And although consequences are known, the act of quitting and overcoming tobacco addiction requires a strong will and defiant extra push. However, I am a strong believer in the idea small changes create a larger impact so maybe the change we are waiting for is just around the corner!


11A.1 Plain packaging as a solution to the misleading and promotional power of packaging – Tobacco in Australia 2018, viewed 16 November 2019, <>.

4364.0.55.001 – National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 2019, viewed 16 November 2019, <>.

Freeman, B. 2019, Thinking outside the box: Tobacco plain packaging and the demise of smoking, Successful Public Policy: Lessons from Australia and New Zealand, pp.303-326,.

Freeman, B., Chapman, S. and Rimmer, M. 2008, The case for the plain packaging of tobacco products, Addiction, vol 103, no 4, pp.580-590,.

Magnusson, R. 2014, The association between tobacco plain packaging and Quitline calls, Medical Journal of Australia, vol 200, no 6, pp.314-315,.

Voon, P. 2018, Big tobacco vs Australia’s plain packaging, Pursuit. viewed 16 November 2019, <>.