Hello and welcome to a new section on the MTCC website. My name is Katherine and I am a volunteer from Australia who will be spending time here in the MTCC Yogyakarta office for the coming months. If you are reading this you will probably be aware the work of the MTCC focuses on advocating for the control of tobacco, and the reduction of the impact of tobacco-related death and diseases in Indonesia. This is achieved through a variety of research projects and advocacy work, collaborating with similarly focused community groups and networks across Indonesia. Of particular focus is advocating for stronger tobacco control measures and improved regulation and enforcement of existing policies within the five districts of Yogyakarta. I am here to offer support and guidance and whatever assistance I can provide to the MTCC team and its various activities. The continued fight against the tobacco industry is an important battle that continues in this incredibly populous and diverse country, and is an extraordinarily complex issue that crosses health, industry and trade, political, social, cultural and environmental concerns.

Each week I will write some personal reflections on the important work of the MTCC, my own experiences of living in Yogya with the extensive exposure to passive smoking and tobacco marketing, and some comments on the tobacco policies, regulations and their evaluation in Australia. The differences so far have been eye opening. In Australia, tobacco products are highly taxed and therefore cost a lot to buy, all tobacco advertising is banned – no television, radio or newspaper advertisements, no street signage or public marketing billboards – in fact no sponsorship of sport or sporting teams of any kind. Furthermore, Australia has some of the strictest smoke-free policies, with smoking banned from indoor public places, some outdoor public places including sporting fields and other places frequented by children, and where pubs and clubs and other popular social places must set a designated area (outside) for people to smoke. Finally, Australia was the first country to have successfully introduced plain packaging legislation that removes the final opportunity for tobacco companies to sell their message; that which covers the pack, to which smokers feel a sense of affinity and identity with their brand of choice.(Many countries have followed suit, with France, the United Kingdom and Ireland mandating the manufacture of tobacco products for these countries to be in plain packs as of May 2016, and the illegal selling of non-plain packs as of May 2017). All of this has led to a country where smokers often report feeling marginalised with reported lower rates of smoking appeal and satisfaction with their cigarettes, as well as more frequent thoughts of quitting (Wakefild et al., 2013; White et al., 2015). This suite of tobacco control measures is far from the policies, regulations and social norms of smoking in Indonesia, though not for a lack of strong anti-tobacco lobbyists.

So join me on this journey over the coming months as I share my thoughts, reflections and learnings, in the hope to help contribute in some small way to the efforts in tobacco control research in Indonesia. With many thanks to the MTCC for hosting me here in Yogyakarta.

Terima kasih untuk tidak merokok.

 

Wakefield, M, Hayes, L, Durkin, S, & Borland, R, 2013 ‘Introduction effects of the Australian plain packaging policy on adult smokers: a cross-sectional study’, Smoking and Tobacco, vol.3: e003175 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003175, available online at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/24/Suppl_2.toc

White, V, Williams, T, & Wakefield, M, 2015, ‘Has the introduction of plain packaging with larger graphic health warnings changed adolescents’ perceptions of cigarette packs and brands?’ Tobacco Control, vol. 24: 4:ii42–ii49. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-052084, available online at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/24/Suppl_2/ii42.full.pdf+html

Katherine Butler 2