Indonesian Doctors Engaging Communities About the Harm of Tobacco


ImageGlobal deaths attributable to tobacco use are expected to double by 2020, with the burden rising in developing countries. Indonesia has already emerged as the third highest nominally in terms of smokers, according to the WHO. Experts cite the power of the tobacco industry, which is the second leading employer in the workforce.

As a significant population health problem, measures are being taking by the government and civil society institutions to combat the rising rates of tobacco use and the ubiquitous presence of the tobacco industry in Indonesian life. Public health planners at the University of Arizona and the Gadjah Mada University have formed Project Quit Tobacco International (QTI), as a pilot to develop a biomedical-focused curriculum in medical schools and culturally appropriate design of cessation approaches in clinic and community-based settings.


Instead of importing courses from Western institutions, QTI decided to integrate tobacco-related curriculum into the four-year medical education track to ensure consistency with the academic culture of leading Indonesian institutions. The end result of the pilot was to involve trained medical students in community outreach efforts to promote smoke-free households. Cessation was not the only intended result of the pilot, and planners hope that practitioner involvement would also elevate collective consciousness in many communities.

As the pilot has concluded, we call for the Indonesian government to step up their involvement in anti-tobacco campaigning in their medical schools and other civic institutions. The health ministry has already taken measures to ban all forms of advertising by the tobacco industry. Now, authorities should enable individual citizens to modify their smoking behaviors and to finally kick the habit. A good start would be to scale up QTI’s pilot to all medical schools nationwide.


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5 Responses to “Indonesian Doctors Engaging Communities About the Harm of Tobacco”

  1. yitchen Says:

    The social context that allows smoking becomes prevalent is one of the reasons why it is so hard to combat this addictive behavior. As a primary physician having giving smoking cessation service in Taiwan for years, I realized we can never be the turning point that drives smokers to quit. We can be a reliable source for consultation., however. And it is great to make the resource wide and deep, starting from medical students education.

  2. jenistockman Says:

    I’m curious as to what you mean by “Cessation was not the intended result of the pilot”. I can see that it may not have been the primary goal of the pilot, however I can’t help but feel as though cessation is the intended goal of all anti-smoking / tobacco awareness campaigns.
    I’m glad to see the indonesian government taking a stand; however I believe that much of the work needed to change behaviors will come from local communities rather than central initiatives. Advertising played a huge roll in developed countries; developing countries need to address issues such as free distribution of cigarette to ‘promote’ addiction, or substituting cigarettes for wages.

    Great blog piece, I always enjoy reading about often ignored global issues such as tobacco. Why do we (non-health professionals) ignore it so much? Are we scared of the task at hand? I’d love to read more comments on this!


  3. sidharthadeka Says:


    Thanks for your reply. Regarding “Cessation was not the intended result of the pilot”; that was actually a typo and I will change it.

    It should read “Cessation was not the only intended result of the pilot”.

    Thanks again,


  4. anitaxuqin Says:

    The worst part about the smoking problem in Indonesia is that the behavior of smoking is quite prevalent among children. I just read a news saying that an Indonesian boy aged 8 smokes two packs of cigarettes on average per day. I believe the problem of early smoking initiation is as urgent as the problem of smoking cessation in Indonesia, and the Indonesian government should enact comprehensive tobacco control polices to address these problems. Communities and health workers should pay attention and implement interventions on their smoking children too.

  5. tnyenswa Says:

    Ever since the United Nations reached a decision at an international conference on Tobacco Control. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history. I hope the QTI project with buttress the effort of the WHO-FCTC. I am also impressed that the Ministry of Health of Indonesia is taking steps to ban tobacco smoking. Implementing these strategies will help prevent COPD other tobacco related diseases and change the behavior of smokers.

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