Marlboro Boys: photo essay highlights Indonesia’s rampant underage smoking problem
IT’S NO secret smoking laws in Australia have become increasingly restricted.
By comparison, Indonesia has an extreme lack of law enforcement when it comes to smoking. This fact, paired with the availability of cheap cigarettes, has led to smokers picking up the habit at an age far younger than other parts of the world.
Canadian photographer Michelle Siu captured this series of images she titled ‘Marlboro Boys’ in an attempt to highlight the smoking culture of Indonesia to the rest of the world.
“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,” she said of the project.
“They inhale and exhale like old men that have been smoking for years — some of them have been smoking two packs a day since they were little kids,” she told TIME.
“Tobacco consumption in Indonesia is a complex issue as it is intertwined in the country culturally, politically and economically. You can’t take 10 steps before seeing a tobacco advertisement or someone smoking,” Siu said.
Here are some of the young people featured in her photo essay, ‘Marlboro Boys’:
Dihan Muhamad, who has smoked up to two packs of cigarettes a day before cutting down, poses for a photo as he has his first cigarette at 7am at his home before he attends his first grade class. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied
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. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied
Illham Muhamad, who has smoked since he was five years old, poses for a photo as he slowly inhales his first cigarette of the day at his grandmother’s home on February 10, 2014. 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. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied
Ompong, which means “toothless” in the local language of Bahasa, poses for a photograph as he has a cigarette. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied
Dihan Muhamad, who used to smoke up to two packs of cigarettes a day before cutting down, poses for a photo as he smokes in his home. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied
Ilham Hadi, who has smoked up to two packs a day and began when he was four years old, poses for a photo wearing his third grade uniform while smoking in his bedroom as he younger brother looks on. Picture: Michelle SiuSource:Supplied