I met Roze during our groups expedition for a shop to print the stickers we needed as a prop for the parade. He is a 30-year-old Indonesian man and spends most of his time in Java, Indonesia. Roze comes to Ambon often as he runs a clove oil business which sells well in Ambon, he also thoroughly enjoys the friendly people and has family here as well. His attitude towards smoking was very intriguing as he stated, “I realise it’s bad for me”, although being a large part of Indonesian culture it’s a hard habit to quit, as he has tried to do multiple times already. He mentioned that he would go a few weeks without smoking, then a friend would offer him a cigarette, and he would give in instantly.
Being an ex-literature graduate, Roze, was incredibly good at English despite not having spoken the language for over five years. I eagerly began to delve deeper into his clover oil business as I found it interesting that he would start a company such as this with next to zero business experience. Cloves are the flower buds of a commonly found tree native to the Maluku islands, in which Ambon is situated. Roze uses a steaming technique to extract the oils from the cloves and sell it in its purest form. The plants are grown and processed back in Java and then distributed in Ambon, he is currently very small scale; growing, transporting, labelling and distributing the oils himself. With his amazing salesman technique, he explained that clove oil has many medicinal benefits like numbing pains such as; tooth or even muscle aches.
A major reason I found this so intriguing is clove is the main spice Indonesians use in their cigarette of choice, Kretek. Over 95% of the cigarettes that are sold in Indonesia are Kretek cigarettes, which contain around 25% clove spice to 75% tobacco. This means clove farmers have a multitude of options for their product, other than for cigarettes. Clove oil, although used extensively especially in Indonesia, doesn’t have the full research to scientifically back up most claims, meaning people are still sceptical of the benefits it possesses. As tobacco consumption reduces, hopefully, in Indonesia, more farmers will turn to producing and exporting spices such as clove. This would be a great opportunity as clove oil is scarcely available and expensive in most western areas.
Fig. 1: Pamela. (2018). Best Plants for Mind, Body and Soul pt. 2: Cloves, Psychics.com, Viewed 31 January, 2019. < https://www.psychics.com/blog/cloves-best-plants-mind-body-soul/ >
With Ambon being such a busy and bustling city, especially for its size and location, tobacco companies do not have to work hard to find a busy street to advertise on. Its last recorded population was 330,000 (Population City, 2010) and has an estimated current population of 600,000 in such a compact area. Yet advertising companies still tend to opt for small street vendors on every corner and in the heart of local community areas. Image going to your local corner store, being confronted with such explicit advertising on a daily occurrence. This is the unfortunate reality of the Ambonese community.
What I decided to focus on was the ubiquity of tobacco campaign ads and how they correlate with Ambon’s high pedestrian traffic areas. The prevalence of tobacco advertising is constantly exploiting populated areas to further embed smoking into Indonesia’s culture (Padmawatil et al 2018, p. 8). Indonesia has not yet signed the World Health Organisation Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, and the national regulations that are in place are not consistently monitored (Mimi et al 2009, p. 98). This has allowed the high mobility of tobacco advertisements throughout Ambon and Indonesia as a whole, which has dubbed the nation as an “advertiser’s paradise”. Print advertisement is not limited to shop fronts and billboards- in Yogyakarta, Java, neighbourhoods are sponsored by tobacco companies to display their signage in the communities. The communities rely on this funding to facilitate neighbourhood improvements, for example street lights (Mimi et al 2009, p. 99).
In my walk around the city, I observed numerous houses willingly displaying tobacco signages (Refer to map). I believe this to be similar to the city of Yogyakarta, where households will also display cigarette endorsements on their houses (As observed in the pictures 1-3 taken during my walk). This evidence of blatant disregard for the community’s wellbeing is very similar still to the landscape of Yogyakarta, where “Tobacco advertising literally saturates” the local area (Mimi et al 2009, p. 99).
In Ambon, these neighbourhoods are often in places that experience heavy foot traffic from people passing by on their way to and from school and work. It is suggested that tobacco advertising has the influence and power to drive the overall consumption of cigarettes (John D. Jackson, 2010). This is very likely why these companies have opted for high foot traffics areas around Ambon, which is a contributing factor to the high numbers of smokers in these and surrounding areas.
Padmawatil, R. S., Prabandari, Y. S., Istiyani, T., Nichter, M., Nichter, M. 2018, ‘Establishing a community-based smoke-free homes movement in Indonesia’, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, vol 4, no. 36, pp. 1-10.
Mimi, N., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M, Ng, N., Prabandari, Y., et al 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, BMJ, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 98-107.
John D. Jackson, Robert B. Jr. Ekelund. 2010, ‘British Journal of Addiction’, Advertising and Smoking – A Smouldering Debate?, Volume 84, no. 11, pp. 1241-1246.
Population.City, ‘Indonesia’, Ambon City Population, Viewed on 17 January, 2019, < http://population.city/indonesia/ambon/ >
South Africa use to be a “leader in tobacco control in Africa and across the world” () as a result of its stringent tobacco control laws it has in place, even before the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC). This title has since been lost as South African tobacco laws, over the past decade “weren’t updated according to current WHO’s standards” ( ), meaning its once strict laws are now considered below par. This is predominantly due to these laws being implemented in the ‘Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993” (P. Reddy, 2013) and were last effectively revised in the 1999 amendment. As a result “16.8 percent of adults (age 15+) in South Africa smoke cigarettes” (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2017).
As you can see from figure. 1, the most significant drop in tobacco use it due to the original implementation of tobacco laws in 1993 (c), resulting in “cigarette consumption decreasing by 39% between 1991 and 2004” (P. Reddy, 2013). Since then Tobacco has unfortunately increased in usage as South Africa lacks any effective anti-tobacco campaigns or legislation. Their most prominent is the annual “Anti-Tobacco Campaign Month” (South African Government, 2016) held in May, which is mainly based off the global campaign “World No Tobacco day 31st May” (The Star, 2017). Although this government led programme doesn’t have much marketing behind it including no obvious kind of aggressive or quit-focused approach towards Tobacco. This is one of South Africa’s main problems with trying to prevent Tobacco use, as they do not put enough emphasis on the health problems related to smoking Tobacco.
This government funded initiative has much more room to grow and has dozens of different campaign approaches to draw inspiration from, such as Singapore’s ‘I quit’ campaign as a more quit-friendly approach, or adopting Australia’s more aggressive ‘graphic health warning’ campaigns (video linked below). If the South African government decides on a path to go down for anti-tobacco campaigning, they will see a major reduction in smoking for both adults and youths as there is a “great deal of evidence from the rest of the world” that these types of campaigning are effective ().
On the 9th May 2018 “South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi published a new tobacco control bill” (), making this the only recent action towards a tobaccoless nation. This Bill intends to eradicate cigarette vending machines, enforce more stringent plain packaging laws, include e-cigarettes in these regulations and more. With these laws meeting the WHO’s current requirements, South Africa will be closer to achieving a tobaccoless nation.
Catherine O. Egbe. (2018). How South Africa is tightening its tobacco rules, The Conversation, Viewed 10 January 2019 < https://theconversation.com/how-south-africa-is-tightening-its-tobacco-rules-97382 >
P. Reddy. (2013). SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.103 n.11 Cape Town Jan. 2013, SciELO, Viewed 10 January 2019 < http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-95742013001100018 >
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (2017). The Toll of Tobacco in South Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Viewed 9 January 2019 < https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/problem/toll-global/africa/south-africa >
South African Government. (2016). Anti-Tobacco Campaign Month 2017, Republic of south Africa, Viewed 9 January 2019 < https://www.gov.za/speeches/anti-tobacco-campaign-month-2017-16-nov-2016-0949 >
The Star. (2017). About 8 million adults in SA smoke 27 billion cigarettes a year, IOL, Viewed 10 January 2019 < https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/about-8-million-adults-in-sa-smoke-27-billion-cigarettes-a-year-9429417 >
Tr125874. (2007). Graphic Lung Cancer Anti Smoking ad, YouTube, Viewed 11 January 2019 < https://youtu.be/W2Rrw1AFejo >
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. (2018) CONTROL OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS AND ELECTRONIC DELIVERY SYSTEMS BILL, Department of Health, Viewed 10 January 2019 < https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201805/41617gon475re.pdf >