Big Tobacco Using Social Media to Lure Youth — May 31 is “World No Tobacco Day” and this year Health-e looks at how social media is helping tobacco companies hook a new generation of Indonesian smokers.
Major cities worldwide such as Cairo, Jakarta and Milan are witnessing a scary trend: tobacco companies are holding big-budget events with names like “K_Player” and “RedMoveNow” all conceptualized to connect with young people. Often involving alcohol, live music and attractive hosts, these extravagant events have a hidden agenda: tempt vulnerable new buyers for their tobacco products.
The real issue is the party-goers are targeted for being young influencers who are encouraged to share photos of their glamorous tobacco-sponsored good times with friends and followers on social media using hashtags like #iamonthemove, #decideyourflowand #mydaynow. And while the influencers are over 18, their social media followers can be much younger.
This exploitation of social media’s organic reach is one of the findings from a global research project underway since 2016. The anti-smoking advocacy group Tobacco-Free Kids noticed copious photos of young people with cigarettes turning up in their online scans of global social media.
Tobacco companies have always been skillful at finding creative avenues to slip by regulations intended to curb marketing to young people. No matter what the medium, the messaging is often the same: find ways to reach new and young potential smokers.
In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) banned tobacco advertising in 168 signatory countries. By 2010, the U.S. had closed a lot of Big Tobacco’s favorite advertising and tobacco loopholes. Although almost two decades later these furtive marketers continue to find whatever means to get their message out.
Fortunately groups such as Tobacco Free Kids, which updates startling data on current Indonesian smoking habits, are pushing back by posting their own clear facts:
- Among Indonesian adults (age 15+), 64.9% of men and 2.1% of women smoke tobacco.
- 9% of men and 4.8% of women use smokeless tobacco.
- 3% of youth (ages 13-15) use tobacco (boys 36.2%; girls 4.3%).
- 4% of youth smoke, and 2.1% use smokeless tobacco.
- Among youth who have ever smoked, 19.8% first tried a cigarette before age 10, and nearly 88.6% first tried one by age 13.2
- The majority of smokers in Indonesia (88.4%) smoke kreteks, clove-flavored cigarettes.
Secondhand Smoke Exposure
- More than half (51.3%) of all adults who work indoors are exposed to secondhand smoke at the workplace. 85.4% are exposed at restaurants and 70% on public transportation.
- 1% of youth (ages 13-15) are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, and 57.3% are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.2
- Smoking kills at least 214,000 people each year in Indonesia.
- Smoking causes approximately 19% of adult male deaths and 7% of adult female deaths each year.
- Indonesia is the second largest cigarette market in the world by retail volume.
- Major tobacco companies in Indonesia include Philip Morris International with 34% of the total cigarette market share by volume, Gudang Garam with 23%,
- Djarum with 13%, and British American Tobacco with 7%, and Nojorono Tobacco Indonesia with 5%. In 2016, over 316 billion cigarettes were sold in Indonesia.5
- Indonesia is the only WHO member state in Southeast Asia that has not ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. A 2009 national health law designates tobacco as an addictive substance.
Tobacco Control Policy Status
- For a summary of smoke-free, advertising and promotion, packaging and labeling, and taxation and price measures, download the Indonesia Tobacco Control Policy Status fact For more information, visit the Tobacco Control Laws website.