Blog Post A: Design and a question of morals

The ethical role designers have in any industry can have impacts that affect entire societies. This can be seen in the tobacco industry within Indonesia and the gambling industry within Australia. The way these products are marketed is designed, by a designer. This designer has taken on the role of creating an effective campaign to advertise a product that may not necessarily have ethical intentions.

The tobacco industry has an immense presence in Indonesia “[becoming] a ‘natural’ part of the Indonesian landscape” (Reynolds, C 1999). The cigarette packets in Indonesia have a range of different aesthetic styles to cater to different target audiences. This was discovered when talking to students from ITS University who reported that some tobacco companies market their products towards teenagers with brightly coloured packaging and flavoured cigarettes, a big offender of this is Esse Cigarettes.


Additionally, advertising campaigns promote smoking addictions through personal image created through graphical design. Strong messages such as “Never Quit” by Surya communicate strong messages with clear intentions, it is at this point that we have to ask ourselves as designers; are we crossing ethical boundaries. –


While it is easy to criticise the Indonesian tobacco industry for its tobacco marketing campaigns, related issues exist all over the world, even in our home country Australia. During October 2018, advertising for The Everest Cup horse racing was projected onto one of Australia’s greatest landmarks. Huge protests were created to stop the illumination of the Opera House sails with gambling advertising. Prior to this, the sails had only been projected onto for special occasions. Australia already has a problem with gambling, and the promotion of gambling contributes to the ever-growing problem. “Australia shows that 63% to 82% of teenagers gamble each year” (Monaghan, C et al. 2008). Behind these advertisements there is a designer at work with the intentions of selling a potentially harmful product at the cost of others. There is a power behind design to influence behaviours and it is with responsibility that these skills should be used to good effect. The question is left, where should the line be drawn to where design can be applied to sell or market an industry? For the tobacco industry in Indonesia that powers a huge part of their economy, should this be allowed to continue to allow for jobs to flourish or should counter measures be taken to drastically reduce the numbers of child smokers? This is a decision that can only be made by the designer and their ethical responsibilities.


Reynolds, C, 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”’, viewed 21 December 2018, <;

Monaghan, S., Derevensky, J., Sklar, A, 2008, ‘Impact of gambling advertisements and marketing on children and adolescents: Policy recommendations to minimise harm’, viewed 21 December 2018, <;

Image 1: Alex Lee, KT&Gs overseas sales hit all-time high, viewed 21 December 2018, <;

Image 2: Anton Jøsef, Gudang Garam | Surya Pro, viewed 21 December 2018, <;

Blog Post C: Youth and Gender Smoking – An Interview in Indonesia

Primary research conducted throughout the studio was done primarily with students from ITS and UNAIR university.
These students identified as: Niluh (21), Achmad (20), Intan (21), Ida (21), Ica (21), Dea (21), Sat (20), Nyssa (20), Nat (20).

Smoking-Indonesia.jpgWithin these interviews, the discussion of cultural practices surrounding gender and youth smoking brought forward unexpected insights. The smoking culture within the youth community shows disparities between genders changing their behaviours and practices.

The following results from the interviews were conducted with both men and women.

Despite the early educational warnings surrounding smoking, “around the time of elementary school”, youth continue to smoke. UNAIR students reported that they learnt about the risks between the ages of 6 and 8. “These lessons are learnt in school in science”, showing that for youth in their teenage years (Martini, S et al. 2005) are beginning to smoke.

The particular views the Indonesian people have on women smoking, including the youth population, have misogynistic overtones which can leave them with a bad reputation and personal image. This was discovered when talking to ITS students over the course of the studio and has been reiterated by Nawai Ng et al (Ng, N et al. 2006). Reasons for this stated by the ITS students, related to women smoking, are that women who smoke are bad influences and can be judge or assumed to be a prostitute. Gestures such as offering a cigarette or placing a light in a certain position can be an indication of an offering of one’s body. In the paper ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’, it is stated that “it is inappropriate and not well mannered for women to smoke. ‘Only prostitutes smoke’ (Ng, N et al. 2006). But it is very appropriate for men to smoke”. Because of these views, some women feel the need to rebel against societal views and smoke to prove a point. This in itself is problematic as it is seeing an increased number of young women smoking, according to ITS students.

Contrastingly in a masculine world smoking is seen and advertised as a manly trait. With self-image being a greatly important part of a growing man’s life, this can cripple their confidence if they are isolated for being a non-smoker. With Indonesia’s youth population being more than a third of its entire population (The Conversation, 2018), the rate of young male smoker’s is growing rapidly.

It shows with the existing factors and the heavy burden the growing youth population has to manage such as their economy, the importance and urgency to resolve the tobacco dependency is rising.


Ng, N., Weinehall, L., Öhman, A. 2006, If I dont smoke, Im not a real man Indonesian teenage boys views about smoking, viewed 19 December 2018, <;


Martini, S., Sulistyowati, M. 2005, The Determinants of Smoking Behaviour among Teenages in East Java Province, Indonesia, viewed 19 December 2018, <;sequence=1&gt;
The Conversation, Protecting young Indonesian hearts from tobacco, 7 June 2018, viewed 19 December 2018, <;

Image: Youth Smoking: an un-natural disaster, viewed 19 December 2018, <;

Going Against the Grain

Cigarettes are ingrained within Indonesian Culture:

The huge role that smoking plays within the Indonesian culture is astounding. The price of cigarettes and rich instilled history means that it is a standard activity shared amongst young and old. Upon exploring the city of Surabaya, I learnt about the sophisticated backstory of the biggest cigarette producers, Sampoerna. This House of Sampoerna displayed historical pieces relating to the development of the brand and production line of the renowned cigarette. Being the most smoked cigarette in the city, it holds a bank of culture. Through this, it has developed a part of the Indonesian economy holding a large stature in the tobacco industry. With 76% of men smoking in 2015 (Schewe, E. 2017), the tobacco industry is a dominating figure within the Indonesian Government’s revenue reaching 55.8 trillion Rupiah in the 2017 January – July period (Lifang, S. 2017). When a fellow student of mine offered an older man a cigarette at the Warkop Sarkam coffee shop, he refused his offer as the cigarette was not of the type that the Surabayans smoke. This display of brand loyalty portrays the monopoly the brand Sapoerna has on the market. When a market as large scale as the tobacco industry is in Indonesia, and the lifestyle heavily involves smoking, the industry begins to seem as if it is a part of the culture.


Smoking cigarettes in this culture acts as a form of social interaction and a representation of personal image. When collaborating with students from the Institute of Technology Surabaya, they informed us that for the younger population, the brand of cigarette that they smoked had the same importance of the clothes that they wear. For university and school students, smoking can be used as a form of stress relief. Around 23% of children between the ages of 15-19 were smoking in 2016 (Senthilingam, M. 2017), and from trends is not showing any signs of decline despite the government raising the tax to an average of 10.54% (Lifang, S. 2017) in an attempt to reduce the consumption of cigarettes.

Another trend that I noticed while exploring the streets of Surabaya was the smoking of cigarettes while working. Throughout the fish markets, coloured streets and cafes, people worked with a smoke in their mouth. The lack of acknowledgment to those around them in a public space shows that they are so used to smoking all the time.

Indonesian Man Smoking.png

While all of these different scenarios may seem like casual smoking on the street when walking past, they are part of a much bigger part of the culture. Some of the big reasons for the large percentage of smokers can be linked back to the ingrained smoking culture.

Map of Surabaya




Schewe, E. 2017, ‘Why Do So Many Indonesian Men Smoke?’, JStor Daily, viewed 7 December 2018, <;

Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked’, The Jakarta Post, viewed 7 December 2018, <;

Lifang, S. 2017, ‘Indonesia’s revenues from cigarette tax rise in first 7 months’, Xinhuanet, viewed 7 December 2018, <;

Senthilingam, M. 2017, ‘Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic’, CNN, reviewed 7 December 2018, <;

Image 1: Goodridge, S. 2018, Surabaya. Surabaya, Indonesia

Image 2: Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, viewed 8 December 2018, <;

Image 3: Goodridge, S. 2018, Map of Surabaya. Surabaya, Indonesia



Post B: South Korea – Anti-Smoking Campaigns

In 2014, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released data on the statistics of smokers in South Korea. These figures showed that 36.6% of the male population (OECD, 2014), above the age of 15, reported that they smoked on a daily basis. It is evident to see that tobacco use within South Korean cities was a growing issue, with Korea “rank[ing] 13th in the world… and second among OECD nations” (The Diplomat, 2014) in 2012. Other factors that induce the usage of cigarettes are the mandatory military service (Premack, R. 2016) and as a stress reliever for high demanding jobs and study. With school children studying between 12-14 hours a day (Premack, R. 2016), this is an evident entry to a smoking habit.

No smoking korea.png

The issues surrounding public smoking is the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) (Kwak et al. 2017). This can be defined as ‘second hand smoke’ and contains a higher concentration of harmful chemicals. This puts young children at risk, due to their still developing airway, making them more vulnerable to smoke related health issues. Upon travelling to South Korea in 2015, specifically Seoul, one of the most remarkable events I witnessed was the introduction of smoking rooms in the streets, these were small glass rooms on the pathway smoggy with cigarette smoke. By having an enclosed area design specifically for smoking, public smoking was allowed. Current challenged with this solution of completely banning smoking in public areas is the disputes between smokers and non-smokers (The Straits Times, 2017). In August 2017, a poll was conducted by the city with over 90 percent of respondents agreeing with completely banning public smoking (The Straits Times, 2017). Those against it are arguing that there are no more places for them to smoke, even within their own private property due to the smoke travelling to other residents. Those who are caught smoking in public can receive a fine of 100,000 won, with shop owners receiving a fine of 5 million won if they allow smoking in their establishment. These fines have been in place since July 2013.


While making nearly the entire city an anti-smoking zone with extreme restrictions and harsh punishments, the decrease in smoking in public areas continues. However, the issues with smoking within the community is being more greatly controlled by other external factors such as the increase in price of cigarettes, anti-smoking campaigns such as graphic boxes and an improved education to smoking. Until these are addressed fully, the health issues surrounding smoking aren’t going to improve drastically.






Premack, R. 2016, ‘South Korea came up with a plan to cut down smoking. The opposite happened’, Washington Post, viewed 29November 2018,  <;

Daily Smokers, OECD, viewed 29 November 2018, <;

South Korea seeks near-doubling of cigarette price, BBC, viewed 29 November 2018, <;

South Korea No Longer a Smoker’s Haven, The Diplomat, viewed 29 November 2018, <;

Image, n.d, Korea4Expats, viewed 29 November 2018,  <;

Kwak, J., Jeong, H., Chun, S., Bahk, J, H., Park, M., Byung, Y., Lee, J. & Yim, H, W, Effectiveness of government anti-smoking policy on non-smoking youth in Korea: a 4-year trend analysis of national survey data, viewed 29 November 2018,  <;

South Korea goes back to drawing board on plan to completely ban smoking in public, Straits Times, viewed 29 November 2018, <;