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Collage of Voices: The Tales of Tobacco Victims” in Indonesia

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

November 5th, 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia and New York, USA: World Lung Foundation (WLF), Universitas Negeri Jakarta (UNJ) and Smoke Free Agents (SFA) today co-host an event to recognize the bravery of tobacco victims who have shared their stories and the commitment of students at Universitas Negeri Jakarta to reducing the harm of tobacco in Indonesia. 

The focus of the event – which is part of the #SuaraTanpaRokok anti-tobacco campaign – is an exhibition of photo–stories developed by UNJ students, detailing the real-life experiences of tobacco victims and their families. People are encouraged to come and view the exhibition, which will remain open to the public until November 20th.


#SuaraTanpaRokok (tobacco-free voices) is a social media-based campaign that empowers anyone in Indonesia to share their own images and stories about the harms of tobacco and call for stronger tobacco control. Contrary to tobacco industry marketing, tobacco causes a significant burden of death and disease (and, consequently, an economic burden) among Indonesia’s people.

As part of the campaign, a group of students from UNJ undertook a workshop to examine how the harms of tobacco could be communicated effectively through photo-journalism. For a period of two weeks after the workshop, each participant worked with one of the tobacco victims in the Aliansi Masyarakat Korban Rokok Indonesia (AMKRI – the Community Alliance of Indonesian Tobacco Victims), to give them the opportunity to tell their stories and warn others about the dangers of tobacco use. The students’ photos – and photos from many other people across Indonesia – are available to view on social media channels including Facebook using the #SuaraTanpaRokok hashtag, and at

“Kolase Bicara: Kisah Para Korban Rokok” (Collage of Voices: The Tales of Tobacco Victims)

The students’ photos and others from the #SuaraTanpaRokok campaign are being exhibited at the “Kolase Bicara: Kisah Para Korban Rokok” (Collage of Voices: The Tales of Tobacco Victims) event at UNJ. The exhibition is expected to inspire other tobacco victims who have joined AMKRI – and those who have not yet become part of the alliance – to speak up about the harms of smoking to themselves and their loved ones. It also aims to educate and inspire Indonesians, especially youth and those in higher education institutions, to join the #SuaraTanpaRokok campaign, and highlights UNJ’s commitment to tobacco control.


A panel, including representatives from the National Commission on Tobacco Control and the Kompas daily newspaper, judged the submissions in advance of today’s event. Today, the panel presented tokens of appreciation to all the workshop participants and tobacco victims involved in the exhibition and the three UNJ student photographers with the most impactful entries were presented with a special award. After today’s event, the exhibition will be open to the public for two weeks.

Prof. Dr. Djaali, Rector of Universitas Negeri Jakarta, explains, “We warmly welcome the invitation from World Lung Foundation to participate in this positive activity. It highlights UNJ’s commitment as the only institution for educators in Jakarta to implement Kawasan Tanpa Rokok/KTR (No Smoking Zone) in the campus area, because trainee teachers are expected to be aware of KTR and to act as role models in educational environments.”

Dr. Kartono Mohamad, the Representative from the Tobacco Control Network, added: “As we all know, Indonesia is home to the world’s home to the world’s highest level of smoking prevalence – and among the world’s weakest tobacco control laws. The policy of establishing KTRs – in accordance with Article 115 of the Indonesia’s Health Law of 2009 – stipulates that smoking and the production, sale, advertising or promotion of tobacco can be prohibited in certain areas, but the implementation and enforcement of KTRs is poor – smoke-free restrictions are frequently violated. The consistent implementation of KTRs and full support from all parties, including academics, is needed to ensure that the KTR policy is more effective and Indonesians are protected from the harms of tobacco.”

At the event, Tere, a public figure, shared her experience of the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. Tere suffered serious respiratory problems as a result of long-term exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes in her working and social environments. After staying away from smokers and smoky environments and living a healthier lifestyle, she is now fully recovered from her illness.

Stephen Hamill, Director, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, World Lung Foundation, concluded, “Research indicates that over 30 percent of Indonesian children start smoking before the age of 10 years, so educational institutions are the best place to start teaching children about the dangers of tobacco. Preventing children from initiating smoking potentially helps them to avoid a lifetime of tobacco addiction and ill health. We congratulate UNJ for its commitment to tobacco control, its efforts to create smokefree areas on campus and its support of the #SuaraTanpaRokok campaign. We applaud “Collage of Voices: The Tales of Tobacco Victims” for the way it reaches youth and helps the public to hear the voices of tobacco victims. We praise the talent and commitment of the workshop participants and the courage and strength of the tobacco victims who have shared their stories. Finally, we hope this inspires others to join the #SuaraTanpaRokok campaign, to raise awareness of the terrible harm tobacco inflicts both on smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke in Indonesia.”

The high burden of tobacco use in Indonesia

Tobacco use causes a significant health and economic burden in Indonesia. According to The Tobacco Atlas, tobacco kills 217,400 Indonesians every year and is the cause of around one in five (19.8 percent) adult male deaths and 8.1 percent of adult female deaths – more than the average in other middle income countries. This death toll is linked to high levels of smoking prevalence, particularly among males. In Indonesia, 57.1 percent of men and 41 percent of boys use tobacco daily – more than the average in other middle income countries. In comparison, 3.6 percent of adult females and 3.5 percent of girls use tobacco daily; the proportion of women smoking is lower than in other middle income countries, but the proportion of girls smoking is higher. According to Basic Health Research (2013), there are 58,750,592 active smokers in Indonesia aged 10 years and older. Over 30 percent of Indonesian children start smoking before the age of 10 years, indicating an urgent need to teach children about the harms of tobacco and to protect children from tobacco industry marketing.