Post C: To be addicted or not to be.

In Ambon, there is this sense of normalcy amongst the population when it comes to smoking. (Tjahjono, 2017). So normalised that the lines between an addiction, a habit or just culture, was in fact blurred and hard to differ. When investigating the motivation behind smoking, and furthermore to understand Ambonese culture a little better, I met an interesting 23yr old man called Nagieb. He stated almost immediately, that he realised smoking was poison, but that he could not stop. And it was after asking him why – why could he not stop smoking, or why he didn’t want to stop smoking, when he proposed an interesting thought.

“In Indonesia, addiction to smoke is better than an addiction to anything else… Drinking alcohol can affect your head and makes you do dangerous things, and if you gamble you could lose all your money. Smoking is cheap here, and it only hurts you, you can’t lose your family’s money or make your parents sad, and it’s the easiest one to stop.”

“So why don’t you stop?” I prompted.

“Because my choosing to smoke here [in Ambon] is sometimes the only control that we have. Sometimes here, [on this] small island, we have quiet business, and sometimes our family needs food, but we can not control that, we cannot control the money that comes in. But the feeling of [needing to] smoke, we can [satisfy the craving] just by smoking, to feel good. That [is something] we can control.”

It was intriguing to consider this idea of ‘control’. How an addiction ironically has control over an individual’s life, and yet, Nagieb insinuates that he has control over himself through his addiction. So cyclical it becomes ingrained in his culture and consequently – thought of as normal.

Studies have proposed that it is human nature to have an addiction (Addiction Centre, 2016). Ingrained in our evolution, having an addiction, provides the stamina for perfection, or wanting to achieve something greater. It is so commonly found in society that some say it is as simple as having a dream or goal. (Noffs, 2018).

However, it would be naïve to say that addictions are good, or vice versa, when in fact, they come in different strengths. Yes, some could be harmless, but most are toxic –  defined as being the psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a dangerous substance, activity, or thought despite psychological and physical harm (Felman, 2018).

So how do we differentiate?

For Nagieb, understanding why he believed he couldn’t break out of the cycle was heavily determined by his circumstances. There were many times when he said he wish he could quit, but would laugh it off and say that he “couldn’t afford to be depressed” as though there was a larger price to pay if he quit, or that there were richer forms of addiction.

It’s intriguing to think that if we were placed under the same circumstances would we also possess the same addiction, thinking it was just part of our culture?


Addiction Centre. 2016. ‘Replacing one addiction for another’ Delphi Behavioural Health Group. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019


Felman, A. 2018. ‘What is an Addiction?’, Medical News Today. Accessed on the 1st Febrruary, 2019.


Noffs, M. 2018 ‘Why and addiction can be a good habit’, Australian Financial Review. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.


Theiss, E. 2012. ‘The Grip of Addiction’, the plain dealer, Cleveland. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.


Tjahjono, T. 2017. ‘How smoking becomes so cool in Indonesia’, Global Indonesian voices. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.





Post A: It starts with a starfish

When I was little, my parents told me a story about a man who saved starfish. The story would take place on a beach, where there were thousands of starfish swept upon its shore.  This man would walk along the beach, pick up the starfish and throw them back into the ocean. One day, a boy came up to the man. The boy asked why this man bothered to walk along the beach day after day when the effort seemed pointless and futile, there were just too many starfish to save. The man didn’t answer the boy at first, he simply picked up a starfish, threw it back into the ocean, and said “I made a difference to that one.”

Making a difference as a designer can sometimes seem like a daunting task. As designers, we are directed to believe that ‘the client is everything’ and that the consumer or customer will dictate the direction of our designs. But at what point do we as designers gain responsibility?

Take the issue of sustainability or the environment as an example, in a design industry such as fashion, for every tonne of clothing put on the market, over thirty tonnes of waste is produced. (Factor Ten Institute, 2001) Fast fashion, stemmed from our societies need for convenience, is one of the leading causes in our global pollution problem. But can we place all the fault solely on a customer needing the newest trend?

There was an interesting theory proposed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, (both pioneers in sustainable fashion) who believed that the core responsibility of being ecological does not fall upon the consumer, but on the actual design on the product. They believed that “human beings are not destructive parasites… they are creative partners with the earth” (Mcdonough, Braungart, 2013) and if given the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, have the capacity to change – with the help of a designer to catalyse that change.

The Tobacco industry share similarities with this fast fashion epidemic, where both markets are predominantly driven by what a consumer wants, in comparison to what they need. Capital and commercial advertising benefit from this demand and designers are influenced to go with the status quo, and design for the majority. “Design for the market, not for the individual” (Mcdonough, Braungart, 2013) is a common ideology, however, what Braungart explores, is that you can do both.

People respond to design. Change does not necessarily have to mean getting rid of Tobacco completely, but if given the opportunity, designers can shape the way consumers perceive Tobacco. The measure of success should not be determined by comparing it to the bigger picture, but by focusing on one issue at a time.

It’s not about saving the entire beach, but just by making a difference to one starfish.



Dempsey, S. & Taylor, C. 2017. ‘Designing Ethics: Shifting ethical understanding in design’, Smashing Magazine, Design and Development. [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

Factor Ten Institute. 2001. ‘Theses for Sustainability in Europe’ [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

Freestone, O. M. & McGoldrick, P. J. 2008. ‘Motivations of the Ethical Consumer’, Journal of Buisness Ethics, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 445–467. [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

McDonough, W. & Braungart, M. 2013. ‘The Upcylcle’. Beyond Sustainability. New York, North Point Press [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;


Blog D: Tobacco culture is a part of Ambon’s colour palette

As a designer, we are taught to find the beauty in everything around us. When exploring a new place; we, like any other; take in the culture, the people, and the natural surroundings of our environment. But what makes us different, is that as designers, we also find the charm in the little things – a beautifully typographic sign perhaps, or in my case; a colour palette.

map blog d

Map of Ambon with GPS coordinates of the places where each Pantone was found – Coordinates on a map share a simplistic beauty with hexadecimal or RGB codes of Pantones

When moving around Ambon, I was so distracted by the beauty of the city that I almost missed the excessive displays of Tobacco advertisements. There was this unnerving synonymy between the colours of the advertisements and their seamless hosts (such as a main road fence, or on the wall of someone’s home) (Figure 1e.), so much so, that the distinction between an advertisement and the norm, was blurred.

Picture_w_pantones_Blog D.jpg

Figure 1. – Tobacco advertisements, packaging and practices also share similar colours with it’s surroundings.

It made me wonder why there was no indiscretion present like there was in Australia. It was almost, as though Tobacco was a culture that blended into the Pantones of Ambon so well (Figure 2.), that the dangerous effects of Tobacco was considered similarly to another road rule in Indonesia; present – but not acknowledged.

colours of ambon pantones_blog d

Figure 2. – Each Pantone is found from more than one place within Ambon. Each colour is derived from a snapshot of that area. These are the colours of Ambon.

Why is Tobacco culture so normalised here in Ambon? How could, not only the advertisements, but also the littered packaging (Figure 1g.) – blend into the landscape so seamlessly, that myself (as a non-smoker), would think it as typical, or even conventional?

In a report on anti-tobacco legislation, investigative journalist Mathew Myers highlighted one reason why the industry could sit so coherently in the Indonesian market. “Indonesia is the perfect example of what happens when you let the industry do whatever it wants to market to young people and the government does nothing to counteract it, it’s a deadly combination.” (Harris, Meyersohn, 2011) In conjunction with such a lax government legislation, the excessive distribution and affordability of cigarettes (Tjahjono, 2017) in Indonesia, painted a brief insight into why this norm was so outwardly accepted.

In Ambon, the effects of this normalcy, were hard to find, but were unquestionably present. Due to it’s location, the city’s coastline masked the effects of air pollution that smoking attributes to (WHO, 2015), in comparison to big Indonesian cities such as Jakarta. However, lethal second-hand smoking (Vital Strategies, pp.22, 2018) was still evident in the markets, on public transport, and even next to food carts as people enjoyed their Soto Ayam. Studies have also shown that the placement of Tobacco advertising in close proximity to schools around Ambon, share similarities with other cities such as Semarang, and that these environmental determinants are usually the biggest factors for first-time and adolescent smokers (Clerq, Haryanti, Maes, Smet, Winarno, 1999).

Looking at a city’s colours shares a similarity with exploring a major issue like Tobacco use. A person can view the exact same colour, and see it differently, just like understanding the different facets that come with combatting the issue of Tobacco in Ambon.

| References

Boseley, S. Collyns, D. Dhillon, A. Lamb, K. 2018. ‘How children around the world are exposed to cigarette advertising’, Tobacco: A deadly business, The Guardian. Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Clerq L.D. Haryanti K. Maes L. Smet B. Winarno R.D. 1999. ‘Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, pp. 186-191, BMJ Journals. Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Harris, D. Meyersohn, J. 2011. ‘From age 2 to 7: Why are children smoking in Indonesia?’, ABC News, Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Senthilingam, M. 2017. ‘Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic’ CNN, Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Tjahjono, T. 2017. ‘How smoking becomes so cool in Indonesia’, Global Indonesian voices. Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Vital Strategies. 2018. ‘The Tobacco Atlas’, Sixth Edition, The American Cancer Society Inc. Accessed on the 16th January 2019


World Health Organisation. 2015. ‘Tobacco Control in Indonesia’, South-East Asian Region. Accessed on the 16th January 2019,


Post B: One of the many guides to breaking up with tobacco.

Telling someone to quit smoking, is synonymous to telling your best friend that the guy she likes; is just not that into her. She probably knows it, and you and your friends definitely know it, but at the end of the day, it’s her choice to keep sending desperate messages, and a smoker’s choice to keep smoking tobacco.

Tobacco control campaigns around the globe work very similarly to how you would approach your lovesick friend. There is already an established knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking, and smokers are exposed to the graphic warnings of their actions, making them even more so aware of the risks, and yet they still continue to smoke tobacco willingly. (Keane, 2018) Previous initiatives were symbolically either the nurturing empowering friend, or the brutal, truthful one. But what is usually missing, is the empathetic one; one that understood that often people giving up an addiction isn’t a choice – it’s just impossible to stop.

So how can initiatives work successfully in controlling the use of tobacco?

Florida’s ‘Tobacco Free Florida’ campaign focuses on understanding ‘the reasons’ behind why people smoke, and furthermore why they can’t stop. It utilises an empathetic lens to drive its initiative to both inspire, and helps others experiencing the same difficulty to also make a change. Instead of using aggressive advertisements, they use positive mindset goals and testimonials, to inspire people to seek help and help others in quitting tobacco use.

The slightly different approach allows the campaign to create a relatable framework that simplifies quitting, and shows an understanding that smokers already realise the risks and responsibilities that come with smoking tobacco, they just need a push towards why they should quit. Listening to things that resonate with a dominant amount of the smoking population like “It takes energy from me, it slows me down, it’s costly. I spend a little over $6 for a pack of cigarettes, if you calculated what I spent in a week, it’s terrible, I could probably pay for my family’s bills. It’s embarrassing.” [Video below] , shows the smoking population that they are not in this alone.

Christy Lanier’s testimonial for the Tobacco Free Florida campaign.

This initiative saw positive results within the first two years, where Florida’s adult cigarette smoking rate had decreased from 19.3 percent in 2011 to 16.8 percent in 2013. (CDC, 2013) Their progress continued to grow, showing encouraging signs in their ‘3 ways to quit’ platform, where in only one year, over 93,000 Floridians used this platform that utilises web coaches and in-person classes in collaboration with the Florida Area Health Education Centres to assist people in their journey to quit smoking. (CDC, 2013)

This isn’t saying that the friend who tells you ‘he’s just not interested’, isn’t effective in changing one’s choices – because for smokers; strong evidence proves that alarming graphic advertisements are effective in reducing youth participating or beginning to smoke (CDC, 2015).

However, for those that are already in too deep; well, sometimes they just need an understanding friend.