Monday, January 15, 2007

Paradise: smoke in the face

Indonesia is home to at least one paradise: a paradise for smokers. Smokers here seem to be born with a burning cigarette on their lips. Signs prohibiting smoking are ignored, after all, Indonesians are true anarchists and smoke blue in the face. Male non-smokers are a tiny exception to the rule. It almost seems as if it is a state sponsored program to support homegrown industry. (A package of cigarettes is much cheaper here compared to what one has to pay in Europe, but that comparison doesn’t hold, because a bus driver, for example, earns only a tiny fraction from his European counterpart.) The package depicted above is actually not from Borneo (or Kalimantan, as the southern two-thirds of the island is called), but from the Central Java town Kudus. In and around Kudus are approximately 300 kretek factories (kretek is the Indonesian term for clove-flavored cigarettes). The largest of these factories in Kudus is Djarum. Djarum is the sponsor of many various music and sport events around the country.


iri said...

hi R, I always have this thought: keeping people away from smoking is only possible and morally justified if they have the leisure to do other pleasant or interesting activities. I mean cigarette is the easiest and cheapest (at least in indonesia) way to relax. people like the bus drivers or the blue collar workers here have so little spare time and so little income that it's almost impossible for them to reject the pleasure of smoking.

I'm afraid that most people, especially indonesians, who want to obliterate smoking from the society are being unfair. They usually have the time or money to find another pleasure. But, they don't care about the fact that not every indonesians could afford such joy.

Roy said...

hi Iri, thanks for your comment. interesting perspective as a hobby. But I didn't really have a moral intention when I wrote this posting. About the comparison: say a package of cigarettes costs here 5000Rp while earing 1millionRp, and a package in Europe costs 50000Rp while earning 20millionRp (+benefits for health, education, and pension), that is why I mentioned that the comparison doesn't hold, because the Indonesian counterpart spends a larger part of his income on smoking (and indeed this has a moral twist: he could save some of this instead to educate his offspring, but his European counterpart might not save either it wouldn't be regulated by the state). R