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 A: Political Cartoons in Indonesia

Political art is prevalent around the world and comes in many visual forms, such as paintings and cartoons. It is created usually as a comment on political corruption and inequalities in society as a result of the law. The design of these comics is born out of both the physical and cognitive political context surrounding the social zeitgeist of the time.

kompas_areyouoptimistic_040112.jpgCorruption, mafia, violence… (APSN 2012)

Indonesia gained a rapid bout of political consciousness around the last period of the Dutch Colonial Rule, “as a result of major social and economic changes and the impact of Western-style education and the ideas of reformist Islam (Alfian 1971).” After the publication of Herbert Feith’s Indonesian Political Thinking, Indonesians became exposed to and aware of, “a wide-ranging collection of writings and speeches by important Indonesian politicians and intellectuals (Jackson & Pye 1978).” This enabled Indonesians to become aware of and educated about the political activity in their country, allowing them to engage with politics through activism.

Of all the politically responsive works created around this time, cartoons were the most popular and distributable. G.M. Sudarta’s Oom Pasikom and Dwi Koendoro’s Panji Koming are two of Indonesia’s oldest political comics.

oom (1).jpg(Bahasa Indonesia 2007)

Oom Pasikom, a political and social cartoon established in 1967 aimed to make news humorous in order to not disturb the Indonesian people. The philosophy behind Sudarta’s cartoons, in his words, was to, “make those in government we criticise to smile, and make people smile to bring up their aspirations (Lent 2015).” Oom Pasikom was even adapted into a film in 1992 using live action and animation.

35-Tahun-Panji-Koming-e1413249865255-750x400.jpg(Kintakun Collection 2014)

Panji Koming, in Koendoro’s words encompasses, “anything of social, political significance (Lent 2015).” Oftentimes, Koendoro’s Panji Koming comic strips would not pass editorial review due to its sensitive themes. The name Panji Koming also tells the viewer what to expect from the comic strips. “Panji is an old Javanese title for mid-ranking royalty. Koming means stunted or small-minded in the Javanese language (Lent 2015).” Calling the titular character of the comic by this name allowed for Koendoro to associate people in elite positions with ignorance.

Political cartoons in Indonesia used to be about the topics of, “nationalism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism (Iswahyudi 2013).” But now Indonesia is in the period called the Reformasi (Reform), post the colonialism, nationalism and communism. The political comics nowadays focus on, “criticizing the government, the parliament and the judicial institution (Iswahyudi 2013).”

Cartoons have been the perfect way for the Indonesian people to comment on their country’s politics as visual language is the easiest to understand and can utilise principles such as humour, satire, irony and sarcasm through pictorial metaphors and narratives. They also give way for, “creating collective consciences by people without access to bureaucratic or other institutionalized forms of political control (Jackson & Pye 1978).”



Alfian 1971, ‘Review: Review: “Indonesian Political Thinking”: A Review: Indonesian Political Thinking: 1945-1965 by Herbert Feith; Lance Castles’, JSTOR, no. 11, pp. 193-200, viewed 14 February 2017, <>.

Asia Pacific Solidarity Net 2012, Corruption, mafia, violence…, viewed 14 February 2017, <>.

Bahasa Indonesia 2007, STOP GLOBAL WARMING, viewed 14 February 2017, <>.

Cartoons Are Like Medical Records 2013, viewed 14 February 2017, <>.

Jackson, K.D. & Pye, L.W. 1978, Political Power and Communications in Indonesia, University of California Press, California.

Kintakun Collection 2014, 35 Tahun Panji Koming, viewed February 14 2017, <>.

Lent, J.A. 2015, Asian Comics, Univ. Press of Mississippi, Mississippi.

The Act of Killing – Indonesia’s Dark History

The Indonesian political climate has long been overshadowed by the corruption, threats and fear of the 1965 military coup as explore through Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2002 documentary ‘The Act of Killing’. The Oscar-nominated film follows death squad members, Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry, in the present day as they relive their actions cinematically as anti-communist gangsters. In doing so, the director tried to show the ‘humanity’ of the killers and give insight into their somewhat misguided attempts at patriotism in 1965.

‘The Act of Killing’ Trailer

The Act of Killing, 2014.

Anwar Congo, a man who is sympathised in the film despite the fact he is ultimately a mass murder, is characterised by Oppenheimer as a soldier at war. He takes little responsibility for his actions during the coup, when an estimated 500,000 to 1 million “communists” were killed (Kwok, Y. 2015). To distance Anwar Congo from his actions, these victims are dehumanised in the film, and in his own consciousness, leading the killer to describe throwing bodies into the rivers “like parachutes” (Oppenheimer, J. 2002). He even goes so far as to claim “deep inside I was proud because I killed the communists” (Oppenheimer, J. 2002), highlighting his soldier mentality.

Oppenheimer also uses an unexpected mix of genres to create a disjunctive narrative form that keeps the audience unsettled. It “blurs the good vs evil narrative” of the film and of the lives these subjects are living (Bjerregaard, M. 2014). The director strives to create a sense of sympathy for the murderers who at this time in history were being “championed as national heroes” (Zelenko, M. 2015).  It is in this way that it becomes clear to the audience that there are two sides to this history and, while they were wildly mislead by their government during the military coup of 1965, Anwar Congo and his associates did not necessarily realise the full extent of their actions at the time. It is only towards the end of the film that these anti-heroes begin to feel some remorse stating that they are “sometimes haunted in their dreams” (Oppenheimer, J. 2002).

Joshua Oppenheimer, The Verge, 2015.

‘The Act of Killing’ was a highly controversial release and elicited mixed responses because, as described by Bob Mandello, Oppenheimer’s work was “a virtually unprecedented social document” (Zelenko, M. 2015). Personally, I align myself with one viewer who, when the film was released, expressed that “I hope Joshua goes all the way with this film… then the government of Indonesia may be forced to deal with human rights” (Bjerregaard, M. 2014). In addition, I think it is important that the country recognise their history in order for “younger generations [to] build a society with values far different” from the one expressed in the film (Bjerregaard, M. 2014).


The Act of Killing, 2014.




Bjerregaard, M. 2014, ‘What Indonesians really think about The Act of Killing’, The Guardian, March 6, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Kwok, Y. 2015, ‘The Memory of Savage Anticommunist Killings Still Haunts Indonesia, 50 Years On’, Time Magazine, September 30, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Oppenheimer, J. 2002, documentary, Final Cut for Real, Indonesia.

The Act of Killing. 2014, Film Poster, The Act of Killing, viewed 17 February 2017, <;.

Zelenko, M. 2015, ‘Talking to Joshua Oppenheimer about his devastating follow-up to The Act of Killing’, The Verge, July 15, viewed 15 February 2017, < >.

Discovering the Information Gap

While working on the ‘show your true colours’ anti-smoking campaign with Vital Strategies, I was instantly exposed to a clear information gap that seemed to occur in Indonesia. The government appeared to be on one side and a sector of the population was on the other side, without all the information. Looking further into this obvious miscommunication, I spoke to a local that had been living in various parts of Yogyakarta for the past two years. Benk Riyade is an artist, activist and trombone player originally from Surakarta.

Initially, I started to ask Riyade about his thoughts on smoking as he was not linked to the work we were involved in as an activist with vital strategies. Instantly he condemned smoking, expecting that was what we wanted to hear but as we got further into discussion it became clear that he did not fully understand the negative consequences of cigarettes. He “only smokes kretek (clove) cigarettes [as they’re] made in Indonesia”, clarifying that this meant they were good because “they stimulated the economy and helped out Indonesian families” not foreign companies (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). Riyade also stated that children shouldn’t smoke is because it is a financial drain on the company but “if they live in the mountains, it’s acceptable due to the colder temperatures” (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). Whilst some of these statements is not strictly incorrect, they’re wildly misleading. This proves that while the government may not necessarily be sharing entirely incorrect facts with its population, it is certainly not enlightening them with a truthful and well-rounded understanding of the dangers of smoking.

smoking kills.jpg
Nugan, E. 2017.

During his time in Kampung Kali Kode, Riyade was working on a mural that explored the political climate of Indonesia. He was very passionate about educating the working class on their position in the country and the power they could have should they be properly represented in parliament. Riyade was very passionate about democracy and was strongly against the pseudo-democratic dictatorship that left “the average Indonesian with no rational alternative to the status quo” (Bjerregaard, M. 2014).  He said he wanted to “make the community realise that the community is the backbone of the country, especially workers”(Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). It is in this way that Riyade ironically began to share his own distaste for an uneducated information gap that seemed to be occurring between the parliamentarians and the working class in Indonesia.

Riyade, B. 2017.

It was only while talking to this Indonesian activist that I began to realise this lack of shared knowledge spread far beyond the realm of an anti-smoking campaign. There appears to be a lot of misleading information as the government takes advantage of their power and their lesser educated population.



Bjerregaard, M. 2014, ‘What Indonesians really think about The Act of Killing’, The Guardian, March 6, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Nugan, E. 2017, Smoking Kills, photographed by Eliza Nugan, 3 February.

Riyade, B. 2017, Interviewed by Eliza Nugan, Indonesia, 3 February.

Riyade, B. 2017, Then we hereby declare “That the suffering of the people must be stopped”, Instagram, viewed 16 February 2017, < >.

Design in a Political Climate

Often, design initiatives are not necessarily linked to designers, artists or organisations in an official capacity. There are many contexts where people create art but instead of calling themselves designers or artists, they more closely identify with activists. This is most often the case in places that are somewhat politically unstable. Countries like Indonesia and Italy share this sense of disillusionment when thinking about their governments. Locals use graffiti and street art as a form of expression to fight the political climate of their countries. While these people are inspired activists, they ultimately design every aspect of their work.


what kind of values are we going to inherit.jpg
Huffington Post. 2013, ‘What kind of values are we going to inherit?’.


During a recent trip to Indonesia, I discussed the national politics with a local artist and activist from Surakarta. Currently living in Yogyakarta, Benk Riyade shared his work with me, highlighting the power of art’s ability to question society norms and educate the masses in an informal environment. Riyade was working on a mural under the bridge in Kampung Kali Kode. He (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February) wanted his work to educate the working class about Indonesia’s current political climate.

Whilst Benk Riyade’s work is considered street art, a form of creativity that is often criticised by heavy weights in the fine arts world, it is ultimately an expression of skill and imagination. When asked he (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February) agreed that he was an artist, but only as a product of his real work which was education and, in my opinion, activism.


Qi, Y. 2017.


While on an overnight trip to Genova, the amount of politically fuelled illegal graffiti was astounding. At this time, Italy was struggling with the influx of refugees from Syria with 262,482 recorded refugees in 2015/16 (Clayton, J. 2016). Each of these street artworks was carefully curated and designed by anonymous activists to send a message in support of or in opposition to current governmental foreign policies. One of the most significant artworks was of a 23-year-old Italian boy, Carlo Giuliani, who, during a G8 protest in Genova, was shot by police (Boschi, F. 2016). The instability in the area which allowed for events such as this to occur left many outraged and distrustful, leading some, like the artist of this particular portrait, to channel their activism into street art by reminding officials of their past mistakes.

Clement-Couzner, M. 2012


The power of Riyade’s work and the anonymous street art is in the design, allowing these artists to communicate their ideas with the wider public through a non-verbal means. Each expression of activism is carefully designed to ensure that they affect their audience in the way that they were intended to.


Other Articles of similar Interest – The Porch Light Program



Boschi, F. 2016, ‘Pronte tredicimila firme per cancellare la vergogna della targa a Carlo Guiliani’, il Giornale Politica, 21 July 2016, viewed 15 February 2016, <;.

Clayton, J. 2016, ‘Over 300,00 refugees and migrants cross Med so far in 2016’, RefWorld UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, 20 September 2016, viewed 15 February 2017, <,,UNHCR,,ITA,,57e143884,0.html>.

Clement-Couzner, M. 2012, Carlo Giuliani, fcollective, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Huffington Post. 2013, Yogyakarta Street Art, Huffington Post, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Riyade, B. 2017, Interviewed by Eliza Nugan, Indonesia, 3 February.

Qi, Y. 2017, Riyade in Kampung Kali Kode, 3 February.