Dihan Muhamad, who has smoked up to two packs of cigarettes a day before cutting down, has his first cigarette at 7AM at his home before he attends his first grade class.
Indonesia’s relationship with tobacco is complex. Cheap cigarettes, ubiquitous advertising, a powerful lobby with tight political connections and lack of law enforcement fuels a national addiction.
Indonesia holds one of the world’s highest rates of male smokers and it often begins at a young age. Boys are growing up in an environment where demand for tobacco is strong and foreign tobacco giants such as Marlboro maker Philip Morris, are establishing themselves as smoking rates decline in other countries.
With the fifth largest tobacco market internationally, the industry is tied to the country’s economy and that industry relies on consumption. Indonesia remains one of the few countries that has not joined the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization which aims “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”
Young smokers begin the cycle of addiction but at a health cost for generations to come. The juxtaposition of young boys smoking like seasoned addicts is jarring yet this project is intended to not only shock and inform viewers but to demonstrate the lack of enforcement of national health regulations and to question the country’s dated relationship with tobacco.
Ilham Hadi, who began smoking when he was four years old, smokes while wearing his third grade uniform in his bedroom as his younger brother looks on.
Illham Muhamad, who has smoked since he was five years old, slowly inhales his first cigarette of the day at his grandmother's. He does not attend school and if his grandmother refuses to give him money to buy cigarettes he will go through withdrawal and cry and throw fits.
Dihan Muhamad used to smoke up to two packs of cigarettes a day before cutting down.
Dihan Muhamad, who used to smoke up to two packs of cigarettes a day before cutting down, smokes while his mother breast feeds his younger sibling.
Cecep poses for a photo as he smokes on February 10, 2014.
Andika Prasetyo, who smokes about a pack a day, has a smoke outside an internet cafe.
Ompong, which means "toothless" has a cigarette.
Eman smokes while clutching a bag of juice.
Tarno Or Owong smokes a few cigarettes per day and his favourite brand is Samporna Mild.
Five-year-old Ardian Azka Mubarok easily purchases a cigarette which he will smoke near his home.
Students buy single cigarettes without age identification at a kiosk after school.
Students on a public bus.