The Australian (BEER) Garden of Eden

Over the past two weeks, we explored deep into Surabaya investigating the smoking culture & the power of the wicked tobacco industry taking 21.37% of life every year to tobacco related disease. Whilst in this bustling city full of diverse culture & character, we couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of large, over saturated advertising with the consistent culprit being that of the vast array of tobacco companies. 

Shocked by the utter amount of advertising & how this is still allowed we couldn’t believe our eyes, as by Australian advertising standards this is a commodity of the past. Boasting of our governments strict action & steps towards a healthier smoke free future we soon realised that this advertising phenomenon seemed vaguely similar to the Australian beverage industry advertising & how we dismissed tobacco advertising & replaced it with more beer ads. Creating a false image, narrative or future of the users, it all seemed too similar to the classic VB, Corona, Pure Blonde & Carlton Draught ads that we all watched on tv as a teen that still sticks with us today. 

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Whilst smoking in Indonesia still holds 76.2% of the population as daily smokers, Australia has been dwindling since the anti-tobacco intervention began in 1993 with the population now sitting at only 14.7% being daily tobacco users. Whilst there is this stark difference in these smoking stats, a counter statistic is that in 2010 it was recorded that 2.6% of Indonesians are drinkers, whilst in Australia 63.0% of the population are drinkers. This stark differences are mostly due to the concentration of Muslim culture in Indonesia, but also due to the prominence of Australian drinking culture & the social norms & implications of drinking in Australia. 

It’s well known around the world that Australians love a drink, even in the past month which I spent in Indonesia, when the topic of alcohol came up whilst talking to fellow travellers & locals the term ‘f*cking aussies’ came up in relation to our drinking habits & the way we act whilst under the influence. This idea & prominence of our drinking culture is mirrored in the excessive & almost comical beverage industries advertising much compared to the Indonesian tobacco advertising which is highly saturated & creates a narrative that can be achieved by its users. 

Whilst we can draw similarities between the Indonesian tobacco industry & the Australian beverage industry, one stark difference is how these habits users can obtain said product. Whilst as we saw in Indonesia, the control over the sale tobacco products is hardly restricted as cigarettes are available from small family run business & also can be sold by the cigarette for younger children. Whilst these sales are rather blasé, Australia is rather strict about the sale of alcohol with most bottle shops asking for ID at the entrance or at the point of sale. I believe for Indonesia to progress towards a more smoke free future a small but significant step towards less youth taking up smoking would be to monitor the sale of cigarettes to only reputable businesses & have the age limit be enforced. 

Tobacco Atlas, 2018, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, Inc. and Vital Strategies, viewed 21st December 2018, <;>.

Department of Health, 2018, Smoking prevalence rates, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

Drink wise, 2018, Australian Drinking Habits 2007 vs. 2017, Drink Wise Australia, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

World Health, 2013, Indonesia Drinking, viewed 21st December 2018, <>.

Corona Extra Australia, 2013, Sunset Bar, Video Recording, Youtube, viewed 21st December 2018, <;

Post C: All About the Image

During our time in Surabaya unravelling the issue of tobacco use, we did extensive research through scholarly articles, news exerts, books etc. which did provide a fantastic intellectual context of the problem in terms of research & stats. Past this research I found that I was lacking information that felt real, like it has a character behind it & existed in the country & city which we were residing in for the next two weeks. To fill the void in my knowledge & interest, we had the opportunity to interview UNAIR students from Surabaya & ask some of the pressing questions we wanted to get real answers for. 


Throughout the interview we asked questions surrounding their knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking, what age they learning this, their family smoking situation & also if they would feel confident enough to spread their non—smoking message personally to smokers. Whilst the UNAIR students providing great knowledge for our queries which did help towards informing our design project whilst in Surabaya, one aspect of our interviews that sparked my interest was their opinions on the image of smoking & how this differs between men & woman in Indonesian culture. 

According to Tobacco Atlas, it was recorded in 2015 that 76.2% of Indonesian men were daily Tobacco users with only 3.6% of Indonesian women with the same habit. During our time in Surabaya, this became more & more evident with men consistently being noticed smoking whether it be transport workers, store owners, in the markets etc. Men smoke & thats a well known factor of Indonesia as some of our UNAIR students explained saying that their ‘father smokes & always has smoked’ but their ‘mother doesn’t smoke & is angry at dad when he does smoke’. Having these stark differences in gender became more & more apparent, & when asking the UNAIR students about why women don’t smoke they explained that ‘in our culture, if a women smokes she is consider a bad woman’.

This gender biased mentality that Indonesia holds is fascinating, with a Tobacco industry so strong, why aren’t they targeting this mass of the population that they just aren’t hitting? Throughout our trip through Surabaya we experienced so much advertising which projected a strong man, a fit man etc. but very minimal advertising even suggested the idea of a woman taking up smoking? If this culture can instil such a fear of being moral unjust as a tobacco using woman, how can this same fear then be turned on the men & encourage this huge section of the population to stop using tobacco? 

Tobacco Atlas, 2018, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, Inc. and Vital Strategies, viewed 21st December 2018, <;>.


The tobacco industry has become an ingrained foundation in Indonesian culture. With a population of over 260 million people and 336 billion cigarettes being produced in 2015 (1), an enormous percentage of the population smoke cigarettes. The World Health Organisation suggests that 65% of the male population smokes and there are over 214,000 tobacco related deaths each year (2). Problematically, it has become a huge factor in the Indonesian economy, with the industry funding sporting events, large scale advertising and owning a dominating presence within the communities. Additionally, the extremely affordable pricing and the widespread access makes devising a solution a complicated and intricate process.

We used an old Australian TV advertisement which demonstrated the symptoms of emphysema through an interactive breathing exercise as inspiration for out project. This advertisement was extremely successful as it allowed you to step into the shoes of a smoker who is experiencing the disease and physically empathise with the smoker. We found this sort of experience informative but also effective in communicating a difficult point through interaction.

Australian Emphysema Ad

Our intervention is an informative package intended to be handed out to small communities or groups to create discussion, inform and encourage change through community members strengthening one another. The package includes six cards, candles and straws; one of the cards feature the mission statement and QR code to the website, another is fact sheet on the causes, symptoms and prevention of emphysema and four breathing exercises that replicate the shortness of breath experienced with the late stages of emphysema. The candles and straws included in the package are necessary for
experiments one and three.

mcok up instructions

With further time consideration and funding, we believe we can improve upon this idea in several ways.  Our media outreach is currently limited to Instagram and a webpage. We intend to further spread our influence through other social media sites to reach a wider audience and hopefully, spread awareness of tobacco related diseases. Furthermore, a more extensive list of experiments could be devised with further research which could further explain symptoms of tobacco related diseases to help better resonate with youth. Additionally, we could aim to create the packages with more sustainable materials, as well as reusable household items such as bamboo and plastic bottles in future experiments to reduce costs in terms of shipping, material sourcing and also provide a second use for the products, rather than simply discarding them.

Being made aware of the minute advertisement there is for anti-smoking in Surabaya, our intervention aims to bring further awareness of the damaging health effects of smoking.  Through our initiative we hope to bring people to a closer understanding, through emphasising with the negative experiences caused by smoking. Our kits are just one step forward for our incentive. With support from community members and organisations we envision that Tahan Nafas will inspire and move people to make a change.

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Post D: Tobacco’s Fountain of Youth.

Surabaya is a growing city, a city of trade, varying culture & strong economy. Beneath the hustle & bustle of this booming city lies the tobacco issue, an issue that is so far embedded into Indonesian day to day culture that the stigma of ‘if you don’t smoke, it’s like you’re not Indonesian’ (Hodal, K. 2012) even exists. Tobacco companies control Indonesia with a tight grip, with its economic power being so strong a collapse in tobacco means a collapse for Indonesia. These companies are multi-billion dollar companies with no expenditure on advertising, promotion etc. being too much. They know their product is hooked & hooked so deep within the Indonesian people, there is little light for the future of public health in this beautiful country without strong intervention & prevention being funded by the government by aligning with the WHO framework. 

Throughout the past few days of exploring the city of Surabaya from a foreigners perspective, the problem does not just exist within the adult population as we experience in Australia. With over ’70% of men aged 20 & over’ (Hodal, K. 2012) smoking & the ‘average starting age falling from 19 a decade ago to just seven now’ (Hodal, K. 2012) the problem is becoming more & more of normalised & the bad habits of the adult population are influencing & rubbing off on the youth in rapid rates. 

Figure 1 and 2: Children playing in the Arab Quarter. (Burdfield, J. 2018)

These raised smoking rates in youth, spread all across Indonesia with rates of youth ‘aged 13 to 15 years showing that 37% has smoked cigarettes & 13.5% identifying as current smokers’. What even more alarmingly is that ’95.1% of Indonesian adolescents reported to never smoke expressed their intention to start smoking in the next 12 months’ (Tahlil, T., Woodman, R., Coveney, J. and Ward, P. 2013). 

With statistics like this, the need for the Indonesian government to intervene is critical. If the government were to begin to take more steps to regulate the sale of cigarettes, the opportunity for youth to illegally purchase cigarettes underage could dissipate. The sale of cigarettes is not only available fro supermarkets & convenience stores, but also local family businesses, warung & also street vendors. With a warung on every corner & street venders roaming up every small alley the sale is too easy & unfortunately the opportunity is there. With the sale of cigarettes being regulated, the age limit being enforced & more opportunity for education on the harmful effects, the youth of Indonesia could head towards a healthier & profitable future with ‘second-largest household expenditure after food’ (Hodal, K. 2012) being put towards a better alternative. 


Figure 3: My concept map exploring some connections I drew between tobacco and youth whilst on our Surabaya walking tour. (Burdfield, J. 2018)

Hodal, K. 2013, Indonesia’s smoking epidemic – an old problem getting younger, The Guardian, 22 March, <>.

Tahlil, T., Woodman, R., Coveney, J. and Ward, P. 2013, The impact of education programs on smoking prevention: a randomized controlled trial among 11 to 14 year olds in Aceh, Indonesia, BMC Public Health, viewed 7th December 2018, 

Nawi, Ng., Weinehall, L. and Ohman, A. 2007, ’If i don’t smoke, I’m not a real man – Indonesian boy’s views about smoking’, Health Education Research, Volume 22, Issue 1, viewed 7th December 2018,  <>.

POST B: Thailand Takes on Tobacco

Being in Indonesia the past two weeks prior to our studio starting has allowed me to get a glimpse of the day to day life & culture of Indonesia & it’s people. This being my first time to Asia, really enabled culture shock to fester within me initially, & realise just how different it is here compared to my blessed, ordinary life back in Australia. Although seeing these drastic differences really left me so often wanting to know the answers to so many questions therefore making this research not so much of a task but more a curious exploration. I decided that I would take my research to a nearby neighbour rather than Indonesia, as I knew so much of our next two weeks of research & exploration would override my simple searches for information & answers. Hence the choice; Thailand.

Southeast asian country, Thailand is very well known by Australians for its tropical beaches, beautiful temples & bustling night life. Hidden behind the flashing lights & the azure waters is the problem of tobacco. In hindsight, not so hidden really with many tourists taking the opportunity to please their smoking habits with the extremely low prices of tobacco, with packs sitting between $2.30-$4.00 AUD as compared to $20-$30 AUD back home. This tempting habit not only being taken up by tourists but also locals with ‘more than 50,000 children (10-14 years old) & 10,736,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2016) sitting in a population of estimated 64,000,000 people.


Figure 1: Beautiful Thailand
Humphrey Muleba, 2018, Maya Bay, Phi Phi Island, Unsplash, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

These sort of stats calculate to 41.4% of the male population in Thailand using tobacco every day leading to a rate of 22.88% of male deaths in Thailand caused by tobacco & an average life expectancy of a Thai male being 75.3 (Tobacco Atlas 2016). Although stats sit much lower in the Thai female population, this does not dim the light of the problem of tobacco use & the need for a strive towards a cleaner & tobacco-less future.

Fortunately precautions are being taken towards a smoke free future for Thailand, after becoming a ‘party to the WHO Framework convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005’ (Tobacco Control Laws, 2017). Taking part in this framework has pushed Thailand to have a current policy which protects public places from second hand smoke & minimise the areas where smokers can partake in the habit. Such areas include ‘healthcare facilities, educational facilities, universities, government facilities, indoor offices, restaurants, pubs, bars & public transport’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2016). Although this is a great movement towards cleaner public places, Thailand is yet to enforce smoke free other indoor places & contribute funding for smoke free enforcement.

Past smoke free area management, Thailand has also started to offer a ‘national quit-line & also cost covered cessation services’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2017). Packaging has also had implementation of smoke prevention imagery such as ‘85% of the pack being covered with graphic warnings’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2017) of the dangers of tobacco use on the body & close by others. Media campaigns are also being run to the whole population via television & radio utilising ‘target audience research & media planning’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2017). Bans have also been enforced to not allow direct & indirect forms of interdisciplinary advertising for tobacco use, with direct bans being ‘national tv, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, the internet etc. (Tobacco Atlas, 2017). Finally Thailand has also paired with the WHO benchmark of having ‘70% excise tax on the retail price’ (Tobacco Atlas, 2017) of tobacco at the point of sale.

Thailand Cigarette Warnings
Figure 2: Thailand Tobacco Packaging
Asian Correspondent 2014, Thailand OKs bigger warnings on cigarette packs, Asian Correspondent, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

All of these contributing movements, changes & factors standardised by WHO Framework convention on Tobacco Control are pushing Thailand & the Thailand Government towards enforcing & implementing a cleaner & more positive future for the health of the Thai population.

Tobacco Atlas, 2018, Thailand, American Cancer Society, Inc. and Vital Strategies, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

Tobacco Control Laws, 2017, Legislation by Country, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

WHO Framework convention on Tobacco Control, 2018, About the WHO Framework convention on Tobacco Control, WHO, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

Humphrey Muleba, 2018, Maya Bay, Phi Phi Island, Unsplash, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.

Asian Correspondent 2014, Thailand OKs bigger warnings on cigarette packs, Asian Correspondent, viewed 29th November 2018, <;.