POST C: Pride, Prejudice And Tobaccos New Target

Figure 1 – A local Surabayan woman walking through the Arab District.

In Indonesia, 67.4% of males and 4.5% of females partake in the habit of tobacco smoking (WHO, 2018). Despite it costing billions in healthcare and a growing awareness of the negative effects of both active and passive smoke inhalation, there appears to be little change or incentive in the populace quitting and the amount of new smokers taking up the habit. Reasons for this lack of change are best explored by analysing the public advertising and marketing of tobacco, religious beliefs, sociology and gender.

The act of smoking amongst Indonesian males is viewed as a signifier of masculinity and a way to increase their social status (Nawi, 2007), this has been the zeitgeist since its inception into their culture. Because of this long-term and widely held sentiment, the male market for tobacco in Indonesia has reached a saturation point. However, existing today is a rapidly increasing rate of smoking among Indonesian women (Ng et al. 2007). As Indonesia is experiencing a new wave of feminism, tobacco companies are targeting young women by promoting cigarettes as “torches of freedom” (WHO, 2012), marketing them to be synonymous with defiance and independence. For these women, their choice in wether or not to smoke poses a series of conflicts between personal desires as well as social and religious expectations (Pampel, 2006). The experiences of those desires, pressures and expectations are represented though the perspective of my interviewee Nyssa Putri.

Speaking with the twenty one year old, Surabayan, graphic design student — Nyssa expressed that smoking for women in Indonesia is considered by many as “lower-class and for sex-workers” (2018) with a particular emphasis on the word “taboo” (2018). She expanded on this phrase citing that education of the health risks related to tobacco (especially for females) is “taboo” (2018) and consequently “not talked about” (2018). Despite Nyssa being a well-educated female, she actively partakes in smoking. When asked why she simply smiled, showed off a few of her tattoos and stated “I am a modern Indonesian, I enjoy smoking to relieve the stress of my studies, a lot of us here (at ITS) do” (2018). Her eyes gleamed as she affectionately described how she and her friends like to build towers in the ashtray on the balcony of her home where they would study together.

Tobacco advertising in Indonesia is largely aspirational and subliminally engrained within sponsorships of many youth events. In conjunction to their tactics of marketing and associating themselves with desirable lifestyles, the branding of many new cigarettes target young women. This is achieved through more ‘feminine’ – flavoured cigarettes and colourful packaging. For our interview, Nyssa kindly brought a series ‘Esse’ cigarettes among them were her favourites ‘Honey Pop’ and ‘Berry Pop’. She laid them out on the table, describing the satisfaction of “breaking the ball” and “inhaling the flavour” (2018).

Figure 1 – A packet of ‘Berry Pop’ Esse cigarettes

Regardless of the conflicting messages within Indonesian culture toward women smoking, Nyssa seems to possess all the qualities that Tobacco companies would want their consumer to have. She is a “modern Indonesian” (2018), adopting a more ‘westernised’ lifestyle, is defiant toward the patriarchy and eager to practice her acts of defiance by being, as she says, “one of the boys” (2018). In summary, our conversation provided valuable insight into the perception of cigarettes and the identity it promotes for women. This proved valuable with regards to the conceptualisation of my teams solution, one that possessed a heavy focus on facilitating a positive identity with non-smoking.


World Health Organization 2018, Tobacco Control in Indonesia, viewed 8 December 2018 <>.

Ng, N., Prabandari, Y., Padmawati, R., Okah, F., Haddock, C., Nichter, M., Nichter, M., Muramoto, M., Poston, W., Pyle, S., Mahardinata, N. and Lando, H. 2007, ‘Physician assessment of patient smoking in Indonesia: a public health priority’, Tobacco Control, vol 16, no 3, pp.190-196.

World Health Organization 2012, Tobacco Control in Indonesia, viewed 8 December 2018, <>.

Fred C. Pampel 2006, Gobal Patterns and Determinants of Sex Differences in Smoking, viewed 21 December 2018 <>

Figure 1, Image captured by Maddison Rutter-Malley (2018).

Figure 2, Figure 1, cigarettes online store, viewed 21 December 2018, <> 

POST B: Snus and the Swedish Experience


Above image: (General Original 2018)

Sweden has the lowest level of tobacco related mortality for men, and the third lowest overall in the EU (Shapiro 2018, 50) with 5 and 11% respectively of men and women smoking. This makes Sweden unusual; it’s one of the only countries in the world where women smoke more, and this trend has been widely attributed to the rise in popularity of Snus amongst men.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 7.16.09 pm copy

Above image: (WHO 2012)

After dropping to its lowest consumption levels in 1967, Swedish moist snuff or Snus as it is referred to in Sweden, has been more popular with male nicotine users than traditional cigarettes since 1996. Made of dried ground tobacco, salt, water and  flavourings, it’s an oral product placed between the gum and upper lip.

Multiple sources cite increases in advertising in the 1960’s onwards, but primarily the development of new pasteurised products by the country’s primary Snus manufacturer Swedish Match (IARC 2007, chapter 1.1.2; Shapiro 2018, p. 48). This new process meant the product was air dried and free of chemicals similar products on the market had, and it proved an effective selling point to a market that was increasingly aware of the effects of smoking on the human body (Henningfield 2001).

Gender disparity suggests social and cultural factors were also at play, with male oriented marketing efforts and other societal notions influencing behaviours, a trend that also tends to ring true for cigarette smoking (WHO 2010).

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Above image: (Ramström 2018)

Nowadays, Swedish Match like many of its competitors openly represents it’s products as a harm reduction strategy (2018) targeting smokers who would like to quit. Studies on effective quitting methods tend to suggest that the use of Snus is in fact more effective than other products such as nicotine chewing gum and patches (Lund, McNeill & Scheffels 2010).


Above Image: (Camel Snus Ads 2011)

The above commercials from tobacco company Camel aired in 2011 and promoted Snus as a healthier alternative to cigarettes in the lead up to the government sponsored Great American Smokeout. While it might be less harmful overall, various studies including one facilitated by the International Agency for research on Cancer in 2007 conclude that Snus is still a group 1 carcinogen capable of causing oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers (IARC, chapter 5.5).

Whether Snus and other smokeless products are effective harm reduction strategies is a debated topic. Governments are reluctant to endorse these products due to commercial interests a company has in transferring nicotine addiction instead of allowing cessation to occur (Henningfield 2001). Some studies also suggest similar products in the United States may have contributed to escalated smoking rates among youths and young adults in the 1990’s by fostering nicotine addictions that were then translated into cigarette use.

Patterns of nicotine use are influenced by complex factors and the Swedish Phenomenon may be open to interpretation for a while yet. That being said, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution so while there is value in learning from individual case studies, it should not be taken as a recommendation for application in other contexts.



Camel Snus Ads, 2011, Camel, USA, viewed 30 November 2018, <>.

ENVIRON International Corporation 2013, Review of the Scientific Literature on Snus, ENVIRON International Corporation, Arlington, Virginia.

General Original, 2018, Swedish Match, viewed 30 November 2018, <>.

Henningfield, J. 2001, Swedish Match Company, Swedish Snus and Public Health: A Harm Reduction Experiment in Progress?, Pinney Associates, Maryland, USA, viewed 30 November 2018, <>.

Lund, K. McNeill, A. Scheffels, J. 2010, ‘The Use of Snus for Quitting Smoking Compared with Medicinal Products’, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 12, no. 8, pp. 817–822.

IARC, 2007, Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-specific N-Nitrosamines, NCBI, Lyon, France, viewed 29 November 2018, <>.

Ramström, L. 2018, Sweden’s pathway to Europe’s lowest level of tobacco-related mortality, Poster, World Conference on Tobacco or Health, South Africa.

Shapiro, H. 2018, No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, Knowledge-Action-Change, London.

Swedish Match, 2018, Our Standpoint, Swedish Match AB, Stockholm, viewed 30 November 2018, <>.

WHO, 2010, 10 Facts on Gender and Tobacco, World Health Organisation, Switzerland.

WHO, 2012, Global Report: Mortality Attributable to Tobacco, World Health Organisation, Switzerland.

Post C: Yogyakartan Street Art


by Marcella Cheng

Our group mural project in Kali Code was the first time any of us had ever used spray paint in our art-making, and so we were relieved to have been given the assistance of a young Yogyakartan street artist by the name of Mosaif. While he seemed mostly amused at our clumsy attempts, he was always more than happy to help clean up our continuously dripping mural and to answer any questions I had.

As it turned out, Mosaif had been painting since he was young, for about ten years or so, since his high school and university days. He said that most of the street artists start out young like him, just quickly tagging walls to slowly master the spray can. It was interesting to find out this bit of information, as the attitudes towards “graffiti” in Australia tend to be extremely negative and usually illegal. While we would consider young street artists as vandals, Mosaif described the activity as a fun trend and a popular way for the youth to express themselves. This was another reason why street art was more prevalent in Yoygyakarta than Jakarta, he explained, as there was far more youth here.


Upon researching, this should hardly be surprising as the street art trend can be tracked back as early as 1998, where political graffiti first emerged mostly from student movements during the Reformasi era. In a time of great political upheaval, it is easy to understand how young people especially would have found “putting spray-can nozzle to wall” as a way to engage in political “self-expression and national identification”, a way to claim their city (Lee, 2013). Lee continues to unravel street art as a form of communication between people of all classes, where anyone could read or view the visual protests and in turn, draw their own response. These wall murals have become “an omnipresent feature of New Indonesia’s urban landscape” that Wilson describes as having a “strong social consciousness interlaced with humour… a bold aesthetic and strong commitment to craft” that could only come from the voices of Indonesian youth.

Another reason why street art is far more popular in Indonesia than Australia, for example, is the incredibly cheap prices of the materials. Even I was shocked, when Mosaif took me to the paint store, that the prices per can averaged from 13000rp to 5500rp (which is $1 – $5 AUD)! When we compared these prices to Australia’s, which averaged $10 per can, as well as the lack of walls to even paint in Sydney, it’s no wonder the art form seems to flourish in Yogya.


All photographs by me (Marcella Cheng)

Mosaif, February 2, 2017, interview

Lee, D 2013, ”Anybody Can Do It’: Aesthetic Empowerment, Urban Citizenship, and the Naturalization of Indonesian Graffiti and Street Art’, City & Society, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 304-327

Wilson, M. 2003, Sama-Sama/Together, viewed 13 February 2017,
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