POST A: Designing in the Tobacco Landscape

Having visited Yogyakarta, it is evident that the culture of the city is fostered through the soul of creative art which can be seen all around. From street art, independent boutique stalls for designers and numerous galleries, Jogja is a place where creativity comes to life. “Central to the island’s artistic and intellectual heritage, Yogyakartais where the Javanese language is at its purest, the arts at their brightest and its traditions at their most visible.” (Lonely Planet, 2019). 

Street Art in Jogja, a glimpse into the creative landscape. Photograph by Aisling Rudge, 2019.

The first time I thought about the link between tobacco companies and the power that designers have, was when I was on a tour in Kali Code. My tour guide, Bayu, stopped to show us some art produced by students in the area. He said that each year the students are able to exhibit their work near Kali Code at an event sponsored by tobacco companies. This made me think of other ways that the tobacco industry has crept into the scenes of events, disguising itself as a friendly sponsor. 

My visit to Kali Code. Photograph by Aisling Rudge, 2019.

Such examples in the past have included the event Java Rockin’ Land, sponsored by Gudang Garam, an Indonesian cigarette company. The event also targeted school children, who “…are enticed to attend the event through special discounted ticket prices”. (SEATCA, 2010). The role of designers in helping to bring these sponsored events to life often include the creation of posters and advertisements that further the agenda of the tobacco companies. 

Still not having signed the WHO FCTC, Indonesia does not need to enforce measures for tobacco control. These measures for control include: “…ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship”. (Kin, Lian & Yoon, 2010). As a result, advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies runs rampant throughout Indonesia, having a detrimental effect towards the tobacco cessation movement. A study on smoking behaviour showed that: “cigarette ads were perceived as encouraging youths to smoke”. (Dewi & Prabandari, 2016).

As designers, we can choose if we want to partake in furthering the power of the tobacco industry, or take a stand and say ‘no’.  American designer, Victor Papanek, notes that “social good and moral values are very important in a designer’s practice…”. (Savvina, 2016).

Whether it be through refusing roles that are associated with tobacco industries or through our own forms of self-expression such as street art, designers can choose how they want to influence the world around them.

‘Stop Smoking’. Photograph by Aisling Rudge, 2019.


Dewi, A. & Prabandari Y. 2016, How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students, Global Health Action, vol. 9, viewed 23 December 2019,

Java Rocking Land, 2010, Java Rockin’ Land, viewed 22 December 2019,

Kin, F., Lian, T. & Yoon, Y. 2010, How the Tobacco industry circumvented ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship: Observations from selected ASEAN countries, Asian Journal of WTO and International Health Law and Policy, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 449 – 466.

Lonely Planet, 2019, Yogyakarta, viewed 22 December 2019,

Savvina, O. 2016, Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education, Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, vol. 2, viewed 23 December 2019, 

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2016, ASEAN Tobacco Control Resource Center, viewed 23 December 2019,

POST A: Designing for the next generation

Design is a complex system often difficult to define. Design activism in particular gives shape to a cause in a way that’s easy to understand and embrace, acting as a sustained platform for change.(Miles, 2019) However, not all design can resolve issues, but instead unknowingly or purposefully contribute to them. In terms of Indonesia’s smoking epidemic, design is a vital tool effectively used to promote tobacco use, whether this be through the use of public space (billboards, banners outside shop fronts), social media and television campaigns, packaging or sponsorships and endorsements of major events. The tobacco industry has and continues to connect with designers and creative culture makers successfully, with the industry increasing their economic gain through their strategic and appealing advertising schemes targeting the youth; the next generation smokers.

In Indonesia, particularly Yogyakarta the presence of smoking advertisements are everywhere. It is surprising when there is a lack of. In Reynolds ‘Tobacco Control’ she shares “…visiting the country in early 1997, I was appalled by the enormous amount of billboard and point-of-sale advertising, indigenous and multinational, so prolific it almost became a “natural” part of the Indonesian landscape.” (Reynolds, 1997)

Smoking Campaign, Borobudur, 2019 (own photo)

Fast forward 22 years later, I share in Reynolds experiences in the sense not much has changed. The lack of advertising control has enabled the tobacco industry to continue to thrive, with it living proof of how impactful design really is. With the rise of a technological era, the exposure of such design is more far-reaching than ever before, from streets to television screens, to the sponsoring of public events, social media and Youtube – media outlets that are more commonly used by Indonesia’s youth.

Gudang Garam’s GG Mild brand Youtube advertisement (2017) clearly advocates the ‘new generation’ as their audience, promoting creativity along side tobacco. Smoking continues to be promoted as a ‘social activity’ or something that is considered ‘cool’, using works by designers as an engaging technique.

Gudang Guram GG Mild Advertisement, 2017

In 2016, Global Health Action conducted a survey with high-school students to investigate how youth perceived cigarette advertising. This study revealed that cigarette ads were perceived as encouraging youths to smoke and that smoking status was consistently associated with perception of cigarette ads. (Global Health Action, 2016)

Not only is the imagery a key aspect of design, but so is placement. Banner design in particular is placed on store fronts in close proximity to schools as a subtle yet strategic method to appeal to youth. (Lamb, 2018)

L.A Bold Cigarette Billboard on Yogyakarta street, 2019, (own photo)
Clas Mild Silver cigarette advertisement on vehicle down Yogyakarta street, 2019, (own photo)

Across Indonesia, more design activism for anti-smoking initiatives is needed. Design is both the problem and the solution, and it effects everything. (Crosby, 2016)

Crosby, A. 2019, ‘Design Activism in an Indonesian Village’, MIT Design Issues, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 50-63, viewed 19 December 2019, <>.

Medicine Man, How does design affect our lives?, marketing agency, London, viewed 20th December 2019, <>.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Prabandari, Y., Ng, N., Danardono, M. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia,’ Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 2, viewed 20th December 2019, < >.

Reynolds, C. 1999, Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”, viewed 20th December 2019, <;.

Yayi P., Arika, D 2016, US National Library of Medicine, How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students viewed on 20th Dec 2019,<>

Post C: Indonesian punks and I.

Within this blog post I would like to begin an analytical conversation around the punk scene within Indonesia and overlay some of my own brief experiences within the scene against those cited in reputable media and text.

Firstly what’s the significance of the punk movement in Indonesia? ABC’s; RN vividly describes the way Punk can, “provide… community and a way to survive.” (Radio National, 2019)  for young Indonesians. Specifically, activist art collectives like Taring Babi have provided and ran thousands of free workshops in an effort to equip young Indonesians with musical and survival skills to co-exist with an oppressive government. The fact that some youths indulge into poverty and make the streets their home merely to defy cultural and religious norms speaks volumes. (Radio National, 2019)

One of the punks I spoke too at a local three-day punk rock festival and market (Instagram: @rv.lintang) hinted at the regulations on their community within Yogyakarta. In response to me asking why they weren’t moshing (mosh: to dance in a wild, almost violent way.) He stated if things got too out of hand the government would shut down their event. He went on to highlight that these events were only possible because they were viewed on a community-based agenda, thus supporting the people and local business. This made sense as I explored the multiple vintage fashion booths and food stalls that surrounded the back of a main stage in a horseshoe layout. They informed me most events and bands thrived on word of mouth and a small social media presence.

The punk scene has not always been so straight forward. For example Indonesian punks known as the Aceh made global headlines in 2011 as they were illegally detained and rehabilitied in a “moral re-education military camp.” (Radio National, 2019), I’ve attached some further links bellow.


The Guardian

Thus the scene I was being exposed too seemed much more ‘relaxed’, in light of this claim I must give tribute to the determination of the Indonesians I met at the three day event I attended. @rv.lintang alluded to the notion that the skate and punk community intertwined at this specific cite, thus the crowd didn’t as strongly represent a punk aesthetic. The clothing stalls boasted a mix of classic street wear, skate culture and punk band merchandise.

Wallach, Jeremy. “Living the Punk Lifestyle in Jakarta.” Ethnomusicology, vol. 52, no. 1, 2008, pp. 116.

Regardless of the relaxed nature I experienced, hints of a punk rebellion persisted, I was offered many homemade Indonesian alcholic beverages, neatly stowed away in plain label ice tea plastic bottles. Hints of the classic mosh culture perpetuated, youth took to the front__ of the stage flung themselves around violently on certain songs. Friends of the performers constantly riled each other up, lifting and throwing their friends, screaming into the microphone, pushing and shoving each other in a violent but lovingly protective manner. The punk scene with it’s lack of aggressive mohawks and jackets layered with sharp silver was well and truly alive at a second glance.


Wallach, Jeremy. “Living the Punk Lifestyle in Jakarta.” Ethnomusicology, vol. 52, no. 1, 2008, pp. 98–116. JSTOR,

 (, D. (2019). Indonesia’s punk scene rocks on | DW | 02.04.2013.


DW.COM. Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].

BBC News. (2019). Punks forcibly shaved for ‘re-education’. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].

Radio National. (2019). Indonesia’s radical underground punk scene. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019]. (2019). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].

the Guardian. (2019). Police arrest punks in Indonesia – in pictures. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019]. (2019). YouTube.


Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].

#Post.A The connection between designer and tobbaco industry

Designers have played a relevant role in the tobacco industry in Indonesia. Especially in tobacco packaging and advertising have become a dominant position. According to Lian(2010), Philip Morris mentioned “The primary job of the package and advertising is to create a desire to purchase and try”,which clarified the designer’s direction for tobacco companies.That means tobacco companies will be deemed to cigarette packaging an integral part of the marketing strategy. There are a lots of tobacco adverting in Yogyakarta such as the advertising of Dunhill cigarette brand showing the high technology and modern city to attract people attention. Another example is the television advertising of L.A brand, which the slogan is’ I lead the pack, I rule the world’ showing the man’s power to attract smoker to buy the cigarette. According to Unreported world (2012), a teenager called Fuad said he start to smoking is because the ads attract him. He feel like smoking is pretty cool while he saw the advertising on the television.

Dunhill television advertising

Moreover, package designer alway use bright colors and trendy flavors logo to attract smokers, such as tea flavor and cappuccino flavors shown on the package(Lian 2010). The tobacco package designer in order to reach the aim of attract people to purchase the cigarettes. They was design some of the commemorative pack showing the popularity of international sporting events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is flags of top competitors are depicted on the packaging. Djarum cigarettes company also win some customer by introducing 12 limited edition pack design feature native to South Africa(Lian 2010). 


2010 FIFA World cup package with animal and football of Djarum.

Furthermore, there are no point to convincing the statement of the tobacco companies deny their advertising targets is under 18 year old is right. Because the themes of tobacco advertising that are likely to be very attractive to young people, such as humor, adventure, cool, bravery and success. According to Macfie(2019), The health warning on the package does not change the smoker behavior in Indonesia. As Surjanto Yasaputera who is work at a cigarette manufacturer in Jakarta said ‘ the health warning does not have a significant impact of sales after the country have implement it. And it it not getting attention of smoker. 


Reference lists:

Lian. Y. T. 2010, Are we to believe the package has no ROLE?, Abuse of the pack to promote cigarettes in the region, Southeast Asia tobacco control alliance, Bangkok, pp.1-pp.15.

Macfie, N. 2019, Indonesia rolls out graphic health warnings on cigarette packs,The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, Sydney, viewed 19 December 2019, <;.

Unreported world 2012, Indonesia’s tobacco children, viewed 19 December 2019, <;.

Post C: Interview about Tobacco Usage in Yogyakarta and Indonesian Culture with Adibah

Adibah works as a student tutor at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY) for the Igov team. UMY is a smoke free campus that has a zero tobacco tolerance for staff and students. I began the interview by asking Adibah: “Do you smoke tobacco/cigarettes with your friends and if you do, why do you smoke?”


“I don’t smoke, but my father and my brother does. So I am indirectly influenced by the smoke at home. Everyday I breathe in their smoke. 

I felt as though Adibah was concerned by her second hand consumption of smoke in the home since she knows about the negative long term effects of tobacco usage. 


“My brother only started smoking last year”


“Oh, why?”


“In Indonesia we have service, like community service, helping with the campus. He was sent to a rural area in Brebes. Brebes is one of the regions in Central Java, 8 hours away from here. The society in Central Java loves smoking so he needed to be used to smoke when they have the general meeting in the village. When he came back home he started to smoke, but not in the house only on campus probably, so my mum won’t know that he smokes. He is not educated about the harms of smoking.” 


“So why don’t you smoke?”


“In Indonesian habit, the woman sees smoking as not normal for herself. Whenever I am wearing my hijab (and I am seen smoking) it will seem like I am a bad person and non law abiding.” 

I smiled at this, thinking to myself that Adibah is such a sweet person the connotation of her being bad if she smoked was amusing to me. I explained: “I am smiling because it’s funny to me that culture makes people believe certain things, you know what I mean?”

Adibah giggled,

“In Indonesia there are a lot of myths that are believed by Indonesians that are wrong but people still believe it. Like for a child, it says that if children are not back home by 5pm they will be taken by the ghost to another world. Lots of children still believe this myth.”

The cultural stigmas around tobacco consumption in Indonesia has allowed for Adibah to have a healthier lifestyle in comparison to the males around her. Attending UMY has also let her work and study in a place that is smoke free, which protects her from second hand consumption in the workplace however not at home around the smoke of her brother and father. 

Photo of Adibah taken outside of Move On café in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Tobacco Farming in Indonesia

Although the tobacco industry provides a large amount of employment for some Indonesian people, these figures are often exaggerated by the tobacco industry to be used as bargaining chips when trying to promote their cause. Agriculture has always been a large part of Indonesias livelihood, employing 41% of the population in 2012 (Indonesia investments, 2012).

 However of the entire agricultural sector only 0.3% is comprised of tobacco farms and 0.03% of gross domestic product (Indonesia Ministry of Agriculture, 2010). Most agricultural farms in Indonesia are plantations of things like rubber, palm oil, cocoa and coffee (Indonesia investments, 2012).  When fighting tobacco control, tobacco spokespeople use employment figures anywhere from 3 – 10 million jobs (SEATCA, ). With varying figures and statistics, it is easy for false numbers to become factual as news and information spreads around.

Villages in high tobacco producing areas like central and east java do benefit highly from the seasonal work that comes with the plantations. However more issues arise as child labour becomes very tempting for struggling families looking for more income. Of the estimates 2.5 million Indonesian children who are working when they should be in school, 60% of those are working in tobacco farms (SEATCA, ). Children are at a high risk of green tobacco sickness, as nicotine is able to enter the body through the pores in our skin when handling tobacco leaves (Human Rights Watch, 2016). Some children report working 7 day weeks and feeling sick during their work days (Human Rights Watch, 2016). The main issue with child labour however is the inability to break the cycle of poverty without an education. If kids are not in school, it makes it much harder to learn new skills which can break them out of low paying jobs such as working on a tobacco farm.

What many tobacco control lobbyist in Indonesia want is a higher tax rate on cigarettes. This would make it harder for people to afford to smoke, which has been shown in other countries to really work to drive down smoker numbers. Currently an average of Indonesian smokers income spent on cigarettes is 19% and if that number could be lessened and spend on more productive parts of the Indonesian market then there would be an economic boom in Indonesian industry, with money spread out evenly. Rather than the billions of IDR going solely to the already enormous main 5 tobacco companies.  



A Brief History of Tobacco

POST D: Is the Indonesian tobacco industry killing or giving?

I remember watching ABC News’ ‘Children smoking in Indonesia’ (ABC, 2012) in high school years back. The video depicted Indonesian toddlers in which majority were boys as young as two year olds smoking, sparking high controversy.

‘Children smoking in Indonesia (2012)’ by ABC News
Youtube, 2012, Children smoking in Indonesia, ABC, viewed 26 November 2019,

Local tobacco company, Gudang Garam’s ‘GG Mild brand’ is rumoured to be notorious for targeting the youth in their trendy smoking advertisements (refer to video). They’ve used this to their advantage as cigarettes are accessible to the underage as there are no laws of restriction in buying (GYTYS). Further, tobacco is also sold cheaply at around $1.55USD for a Malboro 20 pack.

‘Iklan GG Mild 2017’
Youtube, 2017, Iklan GG Mild 2017 style of new generation, viewed 26 November 2019,

In 2012, Indonesia was said to have the most male smokers in the world according to the ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’ (GATS, 2012). Almost 72% of Indonesian men over the age of 15 years have smoked and more than half (54.2%) of their male population are daily smokers (WHO, 2019). Tobacco has been intentionally developed to integrate with Indonesian culture through ‘kretek’. Kretek is a clove scented cigarette which is inspired by Indonesian natural herbs and is said to be smoother but more toxic than the average commercial cigarette. Cigarette companies were aware of how Kretek played on Indonesian culture and thus, saw further opportunities with it. These companies invested greatly into marketing strategies, sponsoring national sporting events and even educational scholarships (Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, University of Manchester, 2018). They were successful with using mainstream marketing as a strategy because unlike Australia, Indonesia does not have a cigarette advertising ban. In a GATS survey, 82.5% Indonesians reported seeing a cigarette promotion (GATS, 2012).

Indonesian boys smoking.
Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita, 2018, As the Rest of the World Quits, Indonesia’s Smokers Increase, asia sentinel, viewed 26 November 2019,

Cheap and easy access to cigarettes go hand in hand with Indonesia’s poverty rate. Over ‘30 million’ Indonesians live in poverty and ’43.4 million’ youths are unemployed, West Java having the highest unemployment rate of 60%. When there is no employment, education is neglected which results in the population being un-educated to the consequence of smoking. This can be particularly dangerous in a place like Java as more than half of the nation’s tobacco is produced in East Java (Santi Martíni and Muji Sulistyowati, 2005). Perhaps, Java’s cultural hub Yogyakarta could also play a factoring role in the tobacco market there too as it is known for its island culture. Similarly, Surabaya, a city in East Java known for its organised youth gangs and homelessness could also add to the popularity of tobacco usage.

Hand drawn map of Indonesia highlighting Java island cities by Brandon Siow, 2019.

With tobacco having such a big part of their culture and high unemployment rates, it is no surprise the government sees no interest in promoting tobacco use less as it is profiting for them and employment in the tobacco industry.


Matteo Carlo Alcano, 2014, Youth Gangs and Streets in Surabaya, East Java: Growth, Movement and Places in the Context of Urban Transformations, viewed 25 November 2019,

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita, 2018, As the Rest of the World Quits, Indonesia’s Smokers Increase, asia sentinel, viewed 26 November 2019,

Nathalia Tjandra, 2018, Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, viewed 26 November 2019,

Tobacco free kids, 2012, Survey: Indonesia Has Highest Male Smoking Rate in the World, viewed 23 November 2019,

Santi Martini and Muji Sulistyowati, 2005, The Determinants of Smoking Behavior among Teenagers in East Java Province, Indonesia, viewed 24 November 2019,;sequence=1

WHO, 2019, WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, viewed 24 November 2019,

Youth Hub Indonesia, 2019, Challenge, Emotive, viewed 26 November 2019,

Youtube, 2012, Children smoking in Indonesia, ABC, viewed 26 November 2019,

Youtube, 2017, Iklan GG Mild 2017 style of new generation, viewed 26 November 2019,

POST D: The male strive to become a “smoking warrior”

Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, with there being dramatically more male users than female users worldwide. Around 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low-middle income countries. (World Health Organisation, 2019) Amongst these countries, Indonesia is the world’s second largest tobacco market after China, with the population of active smokers being 67.4% male and 4.5% female.(World Health Organisation, 2018) These figures demonstrate how cultural, social and gender normalities surrounding tobacco usage have provoked this nature of toxic masculinity as well as how the act of smoking is associated with ‘fitting in.’

Top Ten Cigarette Markets by Volume, 2018

A society’s cultural norms and values help mould the way gender is perceived and expressed. (Marrow, 2010) In Indonesia, the presence of tobacco has been evident since the 16th century, adapting to what is now an accepted and social necessity. (Swandewi Astuti, 2018) Due to the normalisation of smoking culture, the tobacco industry is hugely influential, therefore continuing to target the male population aggressively. It is further encouraged by the positive connotations, with smoking promoted as a ‘pleasurable’ and ‘beneficial’. Social denormalisation of smoking can provide an environment that helps smokers to quit, (Schoenaker, 2018) which is what Indonesia’s cultural demographic lacks.

A 2006 study titled ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’ by Nawi Ng, highlighted the pressures of smoking and its engraved link to masculinity. It focused on 50 teenage boys in four schools in Purworejo District, Central Java purposely examining rural regions to collect understandings. Results found that the boys had not only emphasised that “man has always smoked”, but that smoking as an activity, increased social status amongst friends. If they smoked a ‘good’, expensive and popular cigarette brand, they felt more confident and superior to their peers. (Health Education Research, 2007)

“If we don’t follow our peers and smoke, they will call us feminine” (Health Education Research, 2007, p.798) This idea of achieving manhood is also promoted through smoking, as “A real man should be daring, courageous, confident…[and] able to prove his manliness.” (Courtenay, 2000,p. 73).
The masculine norms discourage ‘feminine’ behaviours and instead aim to express the ‘male identity.’

Project Quit Tobacco International also conducted their own research between 2001-2007 on how smoking appeals to men. After interviewing a sample of urban male smokers from Yogyakarta, results emphasised that masculinity was the main motivation.

In a particular interview, a young man who was a non-smoker, recalled how his uncle expressed concern that neither he nor his brother smoked; “There is nothing bad that will happen to you…It’s a shame for our family line that you and your brother are not smoking—all the men in our family smoke—your father, your grandfather. You are breaking the chain of our family’s smoking history”. (Nichter, 2009)

Population of female and male smokers amongst the whole and targeted regions of Indonesia, based off statistics from the World Health Organisation, 2017

Barber,S., Ahsan, A., Adioetomo, S., Setyonalur, D., 2008, ‘Tobacco Economics in Indonesia’, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, France, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Morrow, M., Barraclough, S., 2010, ‘Gender equity and tobacco control: bringing masculinity into focus’, Sage Publications, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Nawi, Ng., Weinehall, L., 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Health Education Research, Vol 22, no. 11, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., 2008, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, BMJ Journals, Arizona, USA, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Schewe, E., 2017, Why Do So Many Indonesian Men Smoke?, Jstor, viewed 25 November 2019, <>

Schoenaker, D., Brennan, E., Wakefield, M., Durkin, S., 2018, ‘Anti-smoking social norms are associated with increased cessation behaviours among lower and higher socioeconomic status smokers: A population-based cohort study’, Plos One, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Swandewi Astuti, P., Freeman, B., 2018, Protecting Indonesian Youth from Tobacco, The Conversation, Sydney, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

World Health Organisation, 2010, ‘Brief Profile on Gender and Tobacco in South East Asia region’, New Dehli, India, viewed 25th November 2019, <>

Post D: Targeting the youth – Tobacco culture in Indonesia

It was a few years ago now when a video of an Indonesian toddler, smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day, went viral. The video showed a young boy from Sumatra, puffing away on a cigarette, a habit which he took up at only 18 months old. Although this is an extreme case, it is not uncommon for children to begin smoking from a young age in Indonesia. 

‘Indonesian baby smokes 40 cigarettes a day’, (On Demand News, 2019)

Around 66.6% of men and 2.1% of women, are daily smokers in Indonesia. While nearly 4% of children between the ages of 10 – 14 years old use tobacco daily. (The Tobacco Atlas, 2015). Click for more information.

Without looking too far, it is easy to see why tobacco culture is rife in Indonesia. “Tobacco advertising in Indonesia is among the most aggressive and innovative in the world, and tobacco advertisements saturate the environment” (Danardono, Ng, Nichter, Padmawati, Prabandari, 2009). Click for full article. After conducting my own research, several key factors seem to be playing a contributing role to the issues surrounding smoking in Indonesia. These include, persistent and widespread advertising with few restrictions, tobacco companies as a large source of government revenue, a lack of cessation strategies being put into place, a societal pressure for men to smoke, and a lack of health care providers being at the forefront of tobacco reduction efforts. 

A photograph taken by me during my visit to Central Java. In the photo there are 4 signs in a row for cigarette companies and ‘Pro Never Quit’ slogans.

A survey carried out in East Java, studied the smoking behaviours of teenagers in the City of Surabaya and found that the “prevalence rate among youth in Indonesia is much higher than in neighbouring countries” (Martini, Sulistyowati, 2005). Part of this is a result of youth having easy access to tobacco in stores and from street vendors. Further results showed that the youth in Surabaya usually begin smoking between the ages of 10 and 17 years old. Shockingly, some begin as early as 3 years old. As East Java is one of the major raw tobacco, cigarette and kretek producing provinces in Indonesia, it is no surprise that such a high proportion of youths take up smoking. 

Hand drawn map of a section of Indonesia, showing key areas discussed in this blog post

A sad reality of the smoking epidemic are the health problems that come with it. “Indonesia is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease from tobacco-related illnesses” (Hidayat, Thabrany, 2010). Click for more. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the major causes of death in Indonesia, with over 26% being directly caused by tobacco. “Tobacco control is essential for preventing and controlling deaths…caused by CVDs” (World Health Organization, 2018). Further information.

Looking to the future, it is clear that there needs to be some changes made, knowing where to begin and how to go about making these changes are the first steps towards tackling the tobacco industry in Indonesia.  



Achadi, A., Croghan, I., Ebbert, J. & Hurt, R. 2012, Roadmap to a tobacco epidemic: transnational tobacco companies invade Indonesia, BMJ Journals, vol. 21, no. 3, viewed 21 November 2019,

Broadhurst, C. 2019, Dihan, 6, has cut down to just four cigarettes a day from his usual two packs a day. And his parents are proud, PRI, viewed 25 November 2019,

Danardono, M., Ng, N., Nichter, M., Padmawati, S. & Prabandari, Y. 2009, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, BMJ Journals, vol. 18, no. 2, viewed 24 November 2019,

Dhumieres, M. 2019, The number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control, Public Radio International, unknown date, viewed 23 November 2019,

Hidayat, B. & Thabrany, H. 2010, Cigarette Smoking in Indonesia: Examination of a Myopic Model of Addictive Behaviour, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 7, no. 6, viewed 22 November 2019,

Hull, T., McDonald, P., Reimondos, A., Suparno, H., Utomo, A. & Utomo, I. 2012, Smoking and young adults in Indonesia, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute, vol. 1, no. 2, viewed 25 November 2019,

Lando, H. 2016, Promoting tobacco cessation in low- and middle-income countries, Cambridge Core, vol. 11, no. 2, viewed 22 November 2019,

Martini, S. & Sulistyowati, M. 2005, The determinants of smoking behaviour among teenagers in East Java Province, Indonesia, Economics of Tobacco Control Paper No. 32, vol. 1, no. 1, viewed 25 November 2019,;sequence=1

McCall, C. 2014, Tobacco advertising still rife in southeast Asia, The Lancet, vol. 384, no. 9951, viewed 20 November 2019,

Ng, N., Ohman, A. & Weinehall, L. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, viewed 22 November 2019,

The Tobacco Atlas, 2015, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, viewed 26 November 2019,

World Health Organization, 2018, Factsheet 2018 Indonesia, Regional Office for South-East Asia, viewed 24 November 2019,

Post B: Giving the middle finger to HIV.

In the context of a global aids epidemic, with NGO’s struggling to resonate with youth culture; the solution required an intouch, radical and experimental approach. A top down approach from MTV was wildly successful in sparking conversation while involving this criteria in a simpe well devised add campaign, utilizing a 21st century social media frenzy through their hashtag ‘FCKHIV’. (WPPedCream 2017, 2019) Credited to the agency, Ogilvy Johannesburg in coordination with brand name Viacom and MTV the campaign went on to win numerous awards and spark roughly 6.8milion impressions within the first 5 hours, trending as the top hashtag on world aids day on twitter (One Nation Studios, 2019).

The success of this campaign from a design and marketing perspective is due to a couple of simplistic but highly effective variables. Firstly connection, this campaign (in reflection of the video <> quickly identifies itself as an expressive, radical and in touch piece of production. Using traditional film footage in the beginning and subverting it’s serious undertones with bold bright and almost rude text, notably the ‘blah, blah, blah blah’, completely changes the tone and feeling, thus setting a new precinct with correct emotional undertones for the movement to be built on (, 2019)., 2019

In it’s first phase (upon release in 2016) timing was key. The campaign was executed during the month of December, a consistent date set for youth in Africa to party hard, and perfectly in alightment with World Aids Day (, 2019).

In the productions final form the campaign took another radical approach in 2017. Taking the contextually relevant imagery of sperm and juxtaposing its contents with it’s message through a vibrant colourful layout of sperm, blocky but contemporary abstract shapes and big bold but playful typography illustrating the core message, ‘#FCK HIV’ (, 2019).

Apart of the solution involved interdisplenary coordination. This further addresses issues around cultural disconnection and the previous problem with connecting to youth. To address this Ogilvy “ took MTV’s animation art direction and fused it with an underground South African music genre called, Gqom.” Thus we have a highly successful and multi displenary campaign, utilising the hyper digital platform of social media and some clever design to potentially treat thousands of individuals while simultaneously reverting and removing stigma around the global monster known as HIV.

In response to the brief itself, I believe this campaign sets a perfect precedence of thinking for our Indonesia task. Specifically the notions of empathy, understanding and practicality in terms of conection and an in touch attitude and timeless design in consideration of cultural history and current status quoe (, 2019).


Anon, (2019). [online] Available at:;) [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019]. (2019). Behance. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019]. (2019). Welcome | Ogilvy South Africa. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

One Nation Studios. (2019). One Nation Studios – Channel O Absolute V3. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019]. (2019). VIACOM | Ogilvy | MTV #FCKHIV | WE LOVE AD. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

WPPedCream 2017. (2019). MTV #FCKHIV. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].