Post C: Religion and Smoking

In Ambon, the population is composed of 59% Protestant, 39% Muslim and 2% Catholic displaying a clear division among the people (Ansori et. al., n.d.). In each village, their religious building is the most beautiful structure and displays a great amount of wealth which is highly juxtaposed with their homes. I had the opportunity to sit down with a local doctor, Anastassia (Tasya) and discuss the role religion plays within Ambon society. Tasya explained, “the people will give all their money to the church even if they don’t have much,” she continued by saying, “Ambonese culture is strong in religion, their daily life is wired on religion” (2019, pers. comm., 26 January).

The riots in 1999, showcased a division among the Ambonese people, the main factor separating and identifying them is their religion. Although all religions in Ambon live in harmony today, people still identify by their ethno religion and showcase this by living in distinct Christian or Islamic villages (Al Qurtuby, 2013).

Islam is based on five key principles, one in which is the ‘protection of the individual’, therefore any products or forms of consumption that jeopardise the health or life of an individual is considered against the teachings of Islam (WHO, 1999). This explains why alcohol is prohibited and although tobacco did not exist in the time of revelations, by analogy tobacco is one of those products that causes harm. Similarly, Christianity preaches “your bodies are temples… therefore honour God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) (Holy Bible, n.d.).

In Indonesia 2017, a joint press conference was held of religious leaders representing Islam, Christianity and Hinduism and economic experts to denounce smoking and branded it forbidden in their respective religions (Jakarta, 2017).

In Ambon, religion is a high priority, the tobacco culture has an inescapable presence that even religious teachings have not had an effect. With a disregard of their beliefs, 67.4% of males and 4.5% of females in Indonesia smoke (WHO, 2018); underscoring that in theory, there is a relationship between smoking and religion but the smoking culture is strong in Ambon. In a qualitative study carried out in Indonesia, 2015, some non-smokers said their religion reinforced their non-smoking behaviour (Byron et al., 2015) Tasya explains that religion may persuade individuals not to smoke on a personal level, but not on a community level (2019, pers. comm., 26 January).

Reference List

Al Qurtuby, S. 2013, Peacebuilding in Indonesia: Christian–Muslim Alliances in Ambon Island, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, vol 24, no 3, pp.349-367,.

Ansori, M., Sukandar, R., Peranto, S., Karib, F., Cholid, S. and Rasyid, I. n.d., Post-conflict segregation, violence, and reconstruction policy in Ambon,.

Byron, M., Cohen, J., Gittelsohn, J., Frattaroli, S., Nuryunawati, R. and Jernigan, D. 2015, Influence of religious organisations’ statements on compliance with a smoke-free law in Bogor, Indonesia: a qualitative study, BMJ Open, vol 5, no 12, p.e008111,.

Holy Bible n.d., .

Jakarta, C. 2017, Religious leaders in Indonesia come together to say that smoking is forbidden, urging for higher tobacco taxes | Coconuts Jakarta, Coconuts. viewed 29 January 2019, <;.

World Health Organisation 1999, Meeting on Tobacco and Religion, viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

World Health Organisation 2018, Tobacco Control in Indonesia, viewed 30 January 2019, <>.

POST A: The Parameters Of Tobacco Promotion And Demotion, And The Ethics Of Change. 

Designers provide an ability to contribute positively, negatively or as an agent for change within any context. The parameters influencing them are society, culture and government. A thorough understanding of the stakeholders, product/service and end-user produces effective design solutions that in-turn influence the final outcomes success. Across the world, everything related to tobacco, wether it be the cigarette, packaging or paraphernalia, has been influenced by a designer and Indonesia is no exception to this, actually what they have achieved is rather exceptional.

It would be unjust to hand all the credit to designers. Whilst they play a key role, tobacco’s success to such a high degree is only made possible due to its deeply rooted interdependence in Indonesias socio-cultural, political and economic framework. In order to be an ethical designer, once must consider the determinants that influence tobaccos high prevalence. For Indonesian men, smoking is viewed as a signifier of masculinity (Nawi, 2007), whereas for women, they are a symbol of the new feminist movement (WHO 2012). If one wanted to promote change via methods of design activism, one would understand that to radically eradicate tobacco in Indonesia would be financially devastating to many, a futile solution. The tobacco industry is “a major source of tax revenue for the Indonesian Government” (World Bank, 2001). Although the costs of smoking attributable healthcare expenditures are forecast to cost Indonesia trillions by 2030 (Djutaharta, T. & Vijaya, S., 2003), Tobacco companies within Indonesia provide copious grants and opportunities that far outweigh this. This is evident with examples like Sampoerna University, a University named after a Phillip Morris’ kretek subsidiary cigarette brand. It is widely known that the university offers grants of up to $41,000 US for their top performing students, in addition to various entry-scholarships (The Jakarta Post, 2018).

Figure 1- A pack of flavoured Esse cigarettes. With minimal warnings, the bright and colourful packaging and the product itself, it is evidently designed to target young women.

Marlboro Filter Black indonesia Cigarettes front image
Figure 2 – A pack of Marlborough blacks, this brand has strong associations with masculinity.

These practices of promoting cigarettes is in stark contrast to Australia, with a large focus on anti-smoking promotions and campaigns of prevention. In 2006, plain-packaging and graphic warnings in Australia for instance, was a design method implemented for the purpose of the anti-tobacco initiative (The Department of Health, 2018). In Indonesia, the design tactics being used to promote cigarettes and tobacco are transparent.  Whereas in Australia design tactics are bing used to render cigarettes and tobacco as unappealing.

Figure 3 – The evolution of anti-tobacco design tactics with regards to packaging within Australia.


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, <;.

Djutaharta, T. & Vijaya, S., 2003, ‘Research on tobacco in Indonesia: an annotated bibliography and review on tobacco use, health effects, economics and control efforts’, HNAP Discussion Paper: Economics of Tobacco Control, No. 10, pp. 1-66.

Indonesia-Investment 2018, Cigarette & Tobacco Industry Indonesia: Rising Pressures in 2018?, viewed 21 December 2018, <>

The Department of Health 2018, Smoking Prevalence Rates, viewed 21 December 2018<>

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

Figure 2, The Skeptical Cardiologist, viewed 21 December 2018, <>

Figure 3, Clove cigarettes online, viewed 21 December 2018, <;

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: Community enforcement proves more effective than government legislation in the Arab district of Surabaya.

Authored, photographed and illustrated by: Maddison Rutter-Malley

Conurbations of east Java merge into a conglomerate metropolis, thickly veiled with the yellow fumes emitted from car exhausts and tobacco leaves.

According to WHO, tobacco related illness is ranked among the top three in the world for both developed and under-developed countries, with a mortality rate predicted to reach 8.4 million in 2020 (Twombly, 2002). Tobacco inhalation is a leading cause of death with particular relation to non-communicable disease across the globe (H Van Minh, et al, 2006). Ranking as the 3rd highest smoker per capita in the world, it has been officially classed as an epidemic within Indonesia. With an approximation of 33% of the total population (67.4% of men and 4.5% of women) being smokers (World Health Organization, 2018).

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of contrasting cultures. Many of those cultures, especially within big cities like Surabaya, are densely situated. Regardless of opposing religious and lifestyle views, many Indonesians employ tobacco use as an intrinsic part of their day-to-day lives. Regardless that there have been a set of laws implemented into the creation of ‘safe-zones’ for smoke inhalation, these rules are often ignored. A study of the health intervention strategies of selected schools found that in Indonesia “even though schools are supposed to be smoke free areas, the informants often see their male teachers smoking” (Tahlil et al., 2013).

Something I noticed when walking through the streets of the Arab district was the ability for the community to band together and effectively administer a set of rules for selected areas. With particular focus on alleys where young children would reside. Signs posted stated “dilarang menaiki kendaraan di dalam kampung”, which translates to “riding a vehicle in the village is prohibited”.

In contrast to the legislative efforts administered by the local government to implement safe zones, these locally controlled areas proved to be successful with regards to public compliance. With an emphasis on limiting the flow of vehicles within the alleys, most local cafes and transport junctions were situated on the surrounding main strips. These were high activity zones for smoking – due to the prevalence of Warkop’s and transport workers within that area.

Smoking across Indonesian society is embedded heavily within their social dynamics as it connotes a sense of  camaraderie, particularly among men. With a statistic of 85% of transport workers being smokers, (Rita. K, 2014) it is not surprising that these high prevalence zones correlated with the male dominated hang-outs and transport junctions. Whereas in the restricted vehicle zones leading to the Bazaar and Sunan Ampel Mosque and Tomb, there was vastly lower prevalence of smoking activity.

The map I have generated outlines the high and low smoking zones, as well as the operations within each area.



1) Twombly, R. (2002). World Health Organization Takes on ‘Tobacco Epidemic’. Cancer Spectrum Knowledge Environment, 94(9), pp.644-646.

2) World Health Organization. (2018). Tobacco control in Indonesia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2018].

3) H Van Minh, N Ng, S Wall, H Stenlund, R Bonita, L Weinehall, M Hakimi, P Byass (2006). Smoking Epidemics And Socio-Economic Predictors Of Regular Use And Cessation: Findings From WHO STEPS Risk Factor Surveys In Vietnam And Indonesia. The Internet Journal of Epidemiology, 3(1).

4) Tahlil, T., Woodman, R., Coveney, J. and Ward, P. (2013). The impact of education programs on smoking prevention: a randomized controlled trial among 11 to 14 year olds in Aceh, Indonesia. BMC Public Health, 13 (1).

5) Kirana, Rita and Dewi, Vonny Kresna and Barkinah, Tut and B., Isnaniah, ‘Smoking Behavior and Attitude Towards Cigarette Warning Labels Among Informal Workers in Surabaya City – East Java, Indonesia (April 2, 2014) < or hp://> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2018].

(POST D) Unveiling the Waria: Transgender Indonesia

The Waria of Indonesia are one of the country’s most marginalized fringe groups. As journalist, Hannah Brooks explains, the word ‘Waria’ is a combination of the words for ‘woman’ and ‘man’ in Bahasa (Vice 2016). Due to the country’s Muslim majority and strictness of Sharia law in certain regions, hatred towards those who cross dress is common. However in spite of the face of intolerance and societal rejection, a school for Warias has been set up by Maryani, a 50 year old transsexual, in Jogyakarta in order to teach Islam, due to mainstream Islam institutions’ rejection of transsexual identities.

“even though Javanese culture is known for its openness, Islamic law does not approve of deviation” (Vice 2016) 

Warias have always been an accepted part of Indonesian culture. Before the arrival of Islam in Indonesia, there were always two main genders. Each gender would have certain gods and qualities assigned to them by religion however there was definitely more fluidity and tolerance towards anything that was not purely heterosexual behaviour. Gender roles were more flexible and Waria were even honoured as having deity status as it was believed they had the ability to spiritually transcend the norm and undertake other gender roles. This was significant due to pre-Islamic religions striving for balance in the world and they were the embodied form of this idea (Zwaan 2012).


Image sourced from Vice article

The arrival of the Islamic faith in the 1300’s was relatively easy to integrate with Indigenous mythology and tribes adapted to their presence. However intolerance towards Waria had been growing over time and anti-Waria sentiment is at its peak. One of Indonesia’s biggest issues is the intolerance towards minority groups, that which is mostly fuelled by Islam fundamentalists. Ever since, Waria have been pushed further into the margins of society ever since forcing many to earn money through prostitution or other means (Vice 2016).


Image sourced from SBS News article

What is unique about the Waria is that unlike many transsexuals worldwide, many are not interested in sex-reassignment surgeries due to religious reasons. Even more intriguing is that in spite of their mainstream rejection; a lot of them still strive to be devout Muslims. It appears that Waria have still retained the notions of spirituality surrounding the transgression of gender roles. As a result a lot of them tend to stand out, with bold personal expressions of false eyelashes, dramatic makeup and skimpy clothing. Islam notions of modesty and Sharia law fuel hatred towards this particular minority group and Maryani often holds funerals for peers who were victims of violence.

‘”In one month, usually four people need to be buried,” she says. “Even when we die we need money.”’ (Vice 2016) 

In a country where topics such as LGBT issues and drugs are either dealt with by ignoring them outright or are punishable by harsh laws, goes to show the government’s preference to ignore rather than address (Post 2016). The Waria make huge efforts through engaging with their local community to demystify any negativity surrounding their lifestyles. It is this strength and positivity that is compelling to others in their community and to those who read about them, that dwarfs the implied adversity of any laws or threat from any larger bodies.



Post, T. (2016). Difficult for Indonesia to legalize gay marriage: Minister. The Jakarta Post. < > [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

SBS News. (2016). High Heels and Hijabs: Transgender rights in Indonesia. <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

VICE (2016). The Warias | VICE | United States. <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

Zwaan, L (2012) Waria of Yogyakarta: Islam, Gender, and National Identity


Post A – The Rise of Muslim Fashion

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and the majority of its population reside in Indonesia. However, in Indonesia, it is merely more than just a religion. Islam has transformed into a popular brand for media, cultural and commercial products (Gur, 2016).

Over time, the significance of Islamic culture has increased, becoming a widespread influence amongst women in Indonesia, who have chosen to adopt the religious headscarf, otherwise known as the hijab. This propagation of Islamic dress, is the result of a connection of political, economic, and cultural changes among the women of Indonesia (Jones, 2007). Currently, about 10 percent of the female population wear the hijab, which some in the West view as an act of oppression. However, women around the world, view the hijab as a tool of empowerment, defining a woman’s presence with power and style (The Jakarta Globe, 2013).

Fashion designers Odette Steele, Dian Pelangi and Nelly Rose on the runway during London Fashion Week 2016. Photograph: Eamonn McCornmack

Indonesians feature a more dynamic and colourful response to the hijab, while at the same representing its unassertive values. “We interpret modesty in more moderate terms without compromising the head-to-toe coverage” says fashion designer Dian Pelangi, who is known as the pioneer of Muslim fashion in Indonesia. Where the media often overlooks or misinterprets Islam, frequently portraying it alongside acts of terrorism and fundamentalism, fashion designers like Dian Pelangi, travel around the world in hope to promote Islam and Muslim fashion to a broader perspective. Similarly, fashion photographer, Langston Hues, has compiled a book titled Modest Street Fashion, which explores the views and opinions on Muslim fashion trends and their evolution, through a diversity of Muslim women worldwide. “People dress on the basis of their environment and the values they uphold,” he says, “the breed of modest fashion bloggers is fairly new but ever evolving.” (Langston, 2014).

H&M’s ‘Close the Loop’ campaign featuring its first hijab model, Mariah Idrissi. Photograph: Official H&M Facebook

These growing population of women, have in turn carved a way into the fashion industry which now sees this platform as a global trend. High end brands see this as a market opportunity. Dolce & Gabbana launched their first ever collection of abayas and hijabs earlier this year as they seek to cater for the growing demand for Muslim fashion. Uniqlo launched a special collection with Muslim fashion designer Hana Tajima last year, and H&M followed this step by featuring a hijab-wearing model in a recent campaign (The Jakarta Globe, 2016).

A new breed of designers seeking to blend Islamic modesty with cutting-edge style during Jakarta Fashion Week 2015. Photograph: Achmad Ibrahim

With the help of Indonesia’s annual Jakarta Fashion Week and Indonesia’s Islamic Fashion Fair, together with the developing style of hijab-wearers, Indonesia has set its goal to be the global leader in the Muslim fashion industry by 2020 that is worth nearly $100 billion by some estimates (Our Indonesia, 2015).

Being of both Indonesian and Islamic background, I see the rise of the Muslim Fashion industry being a positive one. However, this rise also sets a fine line between the hijab being a religious symbol representing Islam and its contradictions of being purely a fashion accessory.

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POST D: Social Media’s Integration in Indonesian Culture and It’s Intersection With Islamic Ideals

In Indonesia, globalisation and socio-economic growth are facilitating a phenomenal liberalisation of views and exchanges, specifically in relation to technology and social media. Indonesia is one of the highest users of Twitter and Facebook, but what is it about Indonesian culture that makes social media so appealing? And how do these desires intersect with conservative Islamic ideals in a country that’s populace is 88.1% Muslim (Rodgers, 2011)?

In some areas, Western influence in Indonesia is noted as catalysing a regression in progressive Islam, (Harworth, 2012), however it is also propounded that “The effects of socio-economic change, modernisation and globalisation have resulted in more freedom and autonomy for Indonesian youth, and many are becoming increasingly liberal in their attitudes, ideas and behaviours…” (Harding 2008). Although the greater Muslim population in Indonesia is moderate, there still remains conflict between clerics and (predominantly) urban Indonesian’s surrounding the use of technology in alignment with Islamic beliefs, specifically in relation to photography and self-expression.

The notion of pride is generally opposed in Islam (Hay, 2015) as it is believed it is intrinsic to other negative states of being like arrogance, superiority and conceit. There is great debate among Islamic clerics and the Muslim community around whether photography, specifically selfies, are haram (forbidden). In January of this year, an Indonesian author and Islamic cleric, Felix Siauw, ironically used twitter as a medium to post a 17-point manifesto condemning selfies, calling them a sin, specifically for women. In a translation by Coconuts Jakarta, Siauw is quoted as saying “[Five.] If we take a selfie and we feel cooler and better than others—we’ve fallen into the worst sin of all, ARROGANCE.” (Hay 2015) which demonstrates the imbalance between certain interpretations of Islam and the reality of an increasingly globalised community. This twitter tirade was not well received by the urban, tech-centric, Indonesia population and quickly prompted the hashtag #selfie4siauw, causing a massive spate of spite-induced selfies, much to Siauw’s assumed distaste.

But what is it about Indonesian culture that facilitates such an overwhelming response to technology and social media? As a means of greater understanding the social climate the led to this embrace of technology, I referred to a BBC Impact news story from as early as 2011, investigating Indonesia’s growing interest in mobile technologies and social media as a means of communication and connection. Magareta Astaman, a prolific Indonesian blogger and author, believes Indonesia’s culture of connectedness, community and the desire to have a shared experience is what makes social media so appealing (Husain, 2011). During this time period Indonesia was producing 15% of the worlds tweets, with Facebook users jumping from 1 million to 40 million in just 2 years (Husain, 2011). This was a time when social media and technology were in not way as prolific and engrained as they are today. And with Indonesia’s smart phone use steadily increasing (Mahamel, 2014), Indonesian culture is set to be increasingly inextricable from social media and technology use.




1 – Rodgers, S. 2011, ‘Muslim Population by Country: How Big Will Each Population Be By 2030?’, The Guardian, January 29, viewed 25 April 2015, < >


2 – Haworth, A. 2012, ‘The day I saw 287 girl suffering genital mutilation”, The Guardian, November 18, viewed April 23 2015, <;


3 – Harding, C. 2008, ‘The Influence of the ‘Decadent West’: Discourses of the Mass Media on Youth Sexuality in Indonesia, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, vol. 18, viewed April 25 2015, <>


5 – Hay, M. 2015, ‘An Indonesian Cleric Cause a Massive Spike in Selfies after Declaring Selfies a Sin’, Vice, January 28, viewed 25 April,


6 – Kuruvilla, C. 2015, ‘Indonesian Cleric Calls Selfies a Sin. Muslin youth Respond With More Selfies’, Huffington Post, January 28, viewed April 25 2015, <>


7 – Husain, M. 2011, Indonesia’s Social Media Movement, video recording, YouTube, viewed April 22, <>


8 – Mahamel, A. 2014, ‘Indonesia’s Smart Phone Use Surges But Still Lags’, Voice of America, June 16, viewed 25 April, <>

9 – Nha_anolL, 2015, ‘ ‘ Twitter Post, February 8, viewed 25 April, <;