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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

‘If I Don't Smoke, I'm Not a Real Man' – Indonesian Teenage Boys' Views about Smoking

Nawi Ng, MD, MPH1, Lars Weinehall, MD, PhD2, and Ann Öhman, PhD2. (1) Department of Public Health, Gadjah Mada University, School of Medicine, IKM Building 3rd Floor, FK UGM, Sekip Utara, Jogjakarta, 55281, Indonesia, (2) Umeå University, Epidemiology, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå, 90185, Sweden

Objective: Smoking among youth has become the main public health concern in Indonesia, particularly with the lack of tobacco control efforts and regulation at the national level. The study attempted to describe and analyze beliefs, norms and values about smoking among teenage boys in a rural setting in Java, Indonesia.

Methods: Six focus group discussions among teenage boys aged 13-17 years old (three groups of smokers and three of non-smokers) from four schools in the Purworejo District were conducted using a thematic discussion guide. Descriptive content analysis was employed to identify different themes.

Results: Themes derived include: 1) smoking as a culturally internalized habit; 2) striving to become a man; and 3) the way we smoke is not dangerous. Smoking among men is a socially accepted norm. Tobacco has been used in the construction of masculinity as well as in the traditional religious ritual of circumcision. Cultural resistance against women smoking remains strong. However, women's smoking has become more accepted with the modernization of Indonesian society. Health education on the hazards of tobacco has been scarce, and smokers have had misconceptions about the dangers of tobacco use. The use of tobacco as a signifier of masculinity has led smokers to deny these dangers as males are regarded as invulnerable to health risks, and this underlines the importance of gender specific interventions. Tobacco policy at the national level should emphasize the normalizing of a smoking free society and regulations on tobacco control should be enforced at all levels and areas of community.