While in Surabaya we interviewed and spoke to many people, from students to drivers, gathering a range of perspectives to better understand the issue from the ground. These interviews revealed the various nuances that surround the issue. Riyadh, a retail employee working in a high-end chocolate delicatessen, is one of these people that reflected a different attitude to most of the students and individuals I met in Surabaya. Riyadh recently moved from South Sumatra to find work to support himself and family. South Sumatra is known for the low-income levels and the high unemployment rate, with many farming areas within the region (Lisanty & Tokuda 2015). Riyadh says his parents own/run a farm and also a separate local warung nearby. Research into farming in regional Indonesia reveals that the average household total income, from off-farm and on-farm (other than paddy farming), was IDR 3,569,635 a year, which is a daily income of less than $1 (AUD) a day (Suryahadi & Hadiwidjaja 2011). He notes that he was more well off compared to others in the region as he was able to attend school and they had a moderate house closer to the town area. Riyadh says that it is because of his education that he was able to move to Surabaya and have a job, although stating it has been difficult, as he didn’t have a job for a long period of time.
Riyadh’s experiences challenged my preconceived ideas about smoking levels in rural Indonesia. He notes that although many farmers and people in his area choose to smoke, his family does not. His father has always been strict on this and his reasoning for forbidding it upon him was very closely tied to the cost of smoking, and his father always refused the ‘smoking lifestyle’ as he deemed it as ‘unaffordable and unnecessary use of money’.
Studies reveal that on average 72.9% of rural families in Indonesia smoke, with paternal smoking associated with greater household food insecurity (Semba et al. 2011). Riyadh’s father’s choice not to smoke is something that he regards his father highly for, as he is aware of the positive impacts it has had on his life. He reflects on how some of his friends back in South Sumatra, are still living a low quality of life and how he sees himself as fortunate to be able to afford to live in Surabaya. Riyadh reflects hope for the youth of Indonesia, being understanding of the negative impacts of tobacco and unafraid of being called ‘less of a man’ due to his choice not to smoke, ‘I don’t believe in those things. It doesn’t make sense to me that [a] cigarette means you are one thing or not’. Riyadh is one of the few people who I’ve met in Indonesia who is actively aware of the manipulative tactics of tobacco companies, which I think is reflective of the values he was brought up with. He believes that there is more opportunity in the city of Surabaya for him, although being unsure about where he will do next after his retail job.
Lisanty, N., & Tokuda, H. (2015). Comprehending Poverty in Rural Indonesia: An In-depth Look inside Paddy Farmer Household in Marginal Land Area of Banyuasin District, South Sumatra Province. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 3(3), 129-137.
Semba, R.D., M.D., Campbell, A.A., B.S.1, Sun, K., M.S., de Pee, S., PhD, Akhter, N., M.S., Moench-Pfanner, R., Rah, J.H., PhD., Badham, J., M.Sc, Kraemer, K., PhD. & Bloem, M.W., M.D. 2011, “Paternal smoking is associated with greater food insecurity among poor families in rural Indonesia”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 618-23.
Suryahadi, A., & Hadiwidjaja, G. (2011). The role of agriculture in poverty reduction in Indonesia. Jakarta: SMERU Research Institute.