Post C: Peer pressure

Since arriving home after a two-week trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, it is evident to me that smoking has become a large part of Indonesian culture- particularly amongst young boys and men. When I interviewed Priyo, a 19-year-old young man passing by in Malioboro, I asked him if he smoked, and he said yes, with the main reason being that most of his friends around him smoked. Priyo had started smoking around the age of 17, and whilst this may initially seem like an alarmingly young age to begin smoking, this is nothing compared to the copious amounts of children as young as preschool aged being introduced to smoking, with the poster child for Indonesia’s tobacco culture being a two-year-old boy who smokes 40 cigarettes a day. (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2011).

Source: Disclose TV, Froelich, A, 2016, It’s Been 8 Years… This Is What The Indonesian Smoking Baby Looks Like Today, True Activist,

This is a common factor for why many young boys in Indonesia start smoking at such a young age, through the influence of friends and family. When asked about whether or not he would ever consider quitting smoking and if so what would be the reasons, Priyo had said that he has considered quitting smoking before, however “when I hang out with my friends I am certainly affected by it”, and therefore chooses not to quit. This is one of many cases in which the influence of peers has influenced the decision of many young boys to start smoking long term, as the Health Education Research journal (Volume 22, Issue 6, 2007) case study on Javanese smoking culture by Nawi Ng, L. Weinehall and A. Ohman found in their research that when interviewing young boys about the use of tobacco, they emphasised that smoking is common everywhere among men and that this has been the case ever since tobacco was first smoked. At home at least one of their family members smoked and in their social life most of their friends were smokers. Smoking has also found to be associated with masculinity in Javanese culture, with smoking being associated with bravery, and that “if we don’t follow our peers and smoke, they will call us feminine” (Ng, Weinehall, Ohman, 2007).

Priyo’s story is no exception, as him and his group of friends regularly meet in Malioboro in the evenings to hang out and smoke with nothing else to do, which was a common sight for me among my visits to Malioboro to see groups of young boys smoking together.  


Unknown Author, 2011, In Indonesia, Rampant Smoking Begins at an Early Age, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance,

Nawi NG, Weinehall. L, Ohman. A, 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research Journal Volume 22, Issue 6, Oxford Academic Website,

Post A: the link between government, advertising and youth smoking

There are many factors which influence the use of tobacco products in Indonesia, with one of those influences being the marketing and sponsorship from tobacco companies in various events from music to sporting events. Advertisements for Kretek and other types of cigarettes has become regularly appear on television and billboards across Indonesia, and there are no bans in government and private offices or restaurants or bars (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2011).

A poster for tobacco advertising I encountered outside of a small convenience store in Magelang, Java, Indonesia

Along with the many advertisements plastered around the streets of Java promoting smoking with slogans such as “never quit”, various events around Indonesia including Java are sponsored by large tobacco companies- and example being the ‘Java Rockin’land’ music festival held annually, one of the biggest music festivals in Indonesia with popular international artists usually performing. There has been and still is controversy surrounding this festival due to the fact that the event is sponsored by Gudang Garang, the biggest tobacco manufacturer in Indonesia, who actively sponsor events and festivals which target digital natives, referring to them as “Generation G” (Tjandra, 2018).

Poster for Java Rockin’land 2011. Source: Cranberries World

School children are encouraged to attend the event through discounted tickets prices being offered to them, and the Tobacco company does not acknowledge their encouragement of smoking towards minors: “Through this grand event, Gudang Garang International attempts to create a closer proximity for the genre’s younger crowds to their idols” (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2010). Indonesia is the only country in Asia which has not signed or ratified the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC), which includes restrictions on the extent to which tobacco companies can lobby governments, as well as sales to children and passive smoking (Tjandra, 2018). As a result, Indonesia is the only country which still allows direct tobacco advertising, and whilst the advertising on television and radio is restricted between 9:30pm and 5am to reduce exposure to children and teenagers, this doesn’t prove to be very effective.

Diagram showing how each stakeholder links to eachother

The tobacco industry also positions itself as integral to society via corporate social responsibility (CSR), much of which directly involves young people. Another major Indonesian tobacco company Sampoerna has developed its own educational pathway called ‘Sampoerna School System’, which distributes scholarships, supports underprivileged schools and trains teachers and principals, and Djarum sponsord ‘Djarum Superliga Badminton’ and establishes sports training academies for young people. Therefore, it is easy to say that there is a clear link between governments, design and marketing with the high smoking rates in Indonesia.


Unknown Author, 2011, In Indonesia, Rampant Smoking Begins at an Early Age, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance,

Unknown Author, 2010, International artists performing at Indonesian tobacco-sponsored rock festival despite protests, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance,

Tjandra, N, 2018, Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation,

POST D: youth smoking culture

In this tobacco village, smoking 'kretek' is rite of passage
Image source: In this tobacco village, smoking ‘kretek’ is rite of passage, Kusumasari Ayuningtyas, The Jakarta Post

Despite how alarming it sounds, it isn’t uncommon to see children as young as in primary school smoking cigarettes in rural areas of Indonesia. Technically, the legal age to purchase cigarettes is 18 years old in Indonesia, however the industry still remains heavily unregulated, with no penalties imposed on retailers who sell cigarettes to minors.

In some places such as the tobacco producing village of Magelang, Central Java, smoking ‘kretek’ (cigarettes made with a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavours) has become a passage of right for young boys, as many have received packets of cigarettes as a gift for circumcision, as some cultures in Indonesia regard circumcision as the mark of when a boy becomes a man, with boys as young as nine years old receiving this gift from their fathers. The long-standing tradition, coupled with regional revenue from the tobacco industry, has made regency officials hesitant to send a strong message against tobacco control in the area (Ayuningtyas, 2018). Therefore, there is a place of conflict in enforcing tobacco control in the area due to the fact that “on one hand smoking is a part of the culture in the village. On the other hand, these children have to get help to quit smoking” (Rusdjijati, 2018), as the chairperson of Magelang Muhammadiya University’s Tobacco Control Centre Retno Rusdjijati discussed how cases like these put tobacco control campaigners in a dilemma.

map of Indonesia with statistics

The main factors which impact the high number of children smoking are the social and cultural influences particularly if their parents are smokers, and the easy accessibility and affordability of cigarettes; an individual cigarette being as cheap as $0.07 and a pack of 20 Marlborough cigarettes priced at around $1.55. The Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS) conducted in Indonesia, along neighbouring countries found that the prevelance rate among youth in Indonesia is much higher than that of neighbouring countries, with the the prevelance rate being 22% in Indonesia- a much higher contrast to the 9% in Singapore and 5% in China (Martini and Sulistyowati, 2005). The youth smokers interviewed in the GYTS had said that 69% of them had purchased cigarettes from stores, and 72% said that they had never been refused the purchase from cigarettes from retailers. If this already wasn’t alarming enough, a further 13% said that they were offered cigarettes by the tobacco industry, which often holds promotional activities at malls and entertainment centres, including offers of free cigarettes to young people.


Wibabwa, T, 2019, Tackling Indonesia’s smoking addiction a ‘double-edged sword’, ABC News,

Tjandra, N, 2018, Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation,

Martini, S, and Sulistyowati, M, 2005, The Determinants of Smoking Behavior among teenagers in East Java Province, Indonesia, World Bank,;sequence=1

Ayuningtyas, K, 2018, In this tobacco village, smoking ‘kretek’ is rite of passage, The Jakarta Post,

Aditama, T.Y, year unknown, Smoking problem in Indonesia, 52 Article Text, file:///Users/naomi/Downloads/52-Article%20Text-101-1-10-20130310.pdf

POST B: #hereforyou

Image result for #hereforyou instagram campaign
Image: Brittany Herbert/Mashable, Instagram

There has been an increase in the discussion regarding mental health amongst social media, normalising the stigma regarding mental illness. On May 8th 2017, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month, Instagram announced the launch of its new campaign which addressed mental health issues in a heads-on way by introducing the hashtag #hereforyou. The hashtag’s intention was to encourage users to share experiences on their struggles with mental health, with the goal to end the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental health issues and to remind anyone feeling alone that there are people out there who they can talk to and empathise with their struggles; overall showing users that they are not alone.

Instagram’s Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine stated that “People come to Instagram to tell their stories in a visual, and through an image they’re able to communicate how they’re feeling, what they’re doing. So, what we decided to do is to create a video campaign highlighting these communities of support that exist in Instagram”.

Video: Find Your Support Community on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo

The campaign was first introduced by Instagram through the launch of a one-minute campaign video featuring three Instagram users: Elyse Fox (@sadgirlsclubbpng) on her battle with depression, Sacha Cuddy (@thetremblingofaleaf) on her recovery from anorexia, and Luke Ambler (@ambler09), who focuses to remove the stigma for men to talk about mental health and suicidal thoughts. At the end of the short film, more hashtags are shown on the screen which include #ItsOKToTalk, #MentalHealthMatters, #RecoveryIsPossible, #SadGirlsClub, #EndTheStigma, #SelfLoveClub, and #EDWarrior. Other viewers and users are also free to and encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings.

The campaign has proven to be successful as considering that Instagram has a huge power to have an influence, they have launched the topic of mental health into the realm of public discussion, and with the campaign launch, they have brought mental health into the newsfeeds of billions of people- from people who are struggling themselves to people who may have attached negative stigmas.

Levine has said that there is already a community of people who support each other on Instagram, however hopes that through this campaign more users will be able to find that they can relate to each other.

“The hashtag, here for you, that’s something that people say all the time already on Instagram”, Levine said, adding that the new campaign highlights individuals and “giving examples of people in the community” to whom others can relate.


McKelvey, K, 2017, Instagram Launches #HereForYou Campaign for Mental Health Awareness, ABC News,

Instagram, 2017, Find Your Support Community on Instagram, Vimeo,

Brar, F, 2017, Instagram Launches #HereForYou Campaign to Honor Mental Health Awareness, Shape,

Canning, K, 2017, Instagram’s New #HereForYou Campaign Promotes Mental Health Awareness,,

Bury, L, 2017, I’m Here for Instagram’s #HereForYou Campaign, Medium,