Breaking the chain of tobacco smoking by Generation Z by changing the perspective of school students

Tobacco is a leading cause of non-communicable disease (NCD) in Indonesia. Every year, according to the Tobacco Atlas, more than 220,000 people die from smoking-related diseases in Indonesia. There are an estimated two million youth smokers in Indonesia – around one in five students. The lack of early education on the harms of tobacco is a problem. Students smoke because of peer pressure and tobacco advertising, which is still not banned in Indonesia. Children can be exposed to tobacco advertising both offline and online. Law enforcement is still weak, with many violations of tobacco-free rules in public areas or even inside schools. The majority of students are exposed to smoking in their homes and public places. Those will trigger them to smoking or be a passive smoker.

Smoke-Free Agents educates Generation Z students (those born from 1998 to 2010) about the importance of making healthy choices from a young age and living tobacco-free. Generation Z is a target of the tobacco industry’s marketing, and students need to be aware. In an era of easy internet access, students do not always know which information is right or wrong. The GEN-Z PINTAR (Indonesian Tobacco-Free Students) program helps students to make better choices, including about what they will consume. Young people are encouraged to use their creativity and influence to end tobacco use by being peer educators and smoke-free advocates. GEN-Z PINTAR encourages them to be a part of the tobacco-free generation and not become “replacement smokers”. GEN-Z PINTAR builds students’ character to be the generation that dares to speak up and make a change.

Tobacco advertising is one of the factors that convinces children to smoke. Research shows that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion from a young age will increase the positive perception of tobacco or smoking, and encourage young people to continue smoking or relapse after initially attempting to quit.

This research presented the results of a survey of students from three selected schools in Jakarta, completed from May 2018. It surveyed 83 students aged 13 to 17 from one middle public school, one vocational school, and one middle private school. The surveys were done before and after students joined the GEN-Z PINTAR program for three hours in class.

By law, schools are supposed to be free of smoking, cigarette sales and advertising or promotion. This report shows that students at the schools surveyed were still exposed to tobacco advertising and their knowledge of tobacco is doubtful, especially of tobacco advertising and industry tactic to lure new customers.

The PINTAR intervention in the schools includes defining students’ motivation and goals, explaining tobacco advertising and how Generation Z is targeted as new consumers, the psychological effect of advertising, knowing the truth about cigarettes, and debunking the myth of tobacco’s contribution to national economy and social welfare.

This project found that 100 per cent of students understood the harms of smoking and it that it becomes a long-term addiction. But many students did not know the harms of tobacco advertising. They also still believed that the tobacco industry was a benefit to the country, with 78 per cent saying they did not know that the loss to the economy caused by smoking was higher than the income from the tobacco industry. Meanwhile, 22 per cent of students also thought that tobacco was a part of Indonesian culture. Moreover, 54 per cent of students did not notice forms of tobacco promotion including music, scholarship and sport sponsorship. Students also acknowledged that they were exposed to tobacco advertising when surfing the internet.

After the GEN Z PINTAR presentation, their disagreement with tobacco marketing increased. They disagreed that tobacco should be advertised on television (93 per cent), outdoors (95 per cent), in music and sport (88 per cent), education and scholarship (90 per cent). The method of discrediting tobacco was successful, with 95 per cent of students saying that smoking is uncool. Despite the messages of the tobacco advertising and promotion they were exposed to, 96 per cent of students agreed that tobacco industry did not care about people’s health and life. The GEN Z PINTAR program applied an interactive education method that focused on shaping students’ perception of coolness, tobacco industry strategies, the impact of tobacco consumption and the economic burden in Indonesia.

This report shows that even though students got much of their information from the internet or other resources, tobacco advertising could not be avoided. Their acceptance of the normality of tobacco products and advertising was still high, but intervention and education helped change attitudes to tobacco.


  • 2 Modules of GEN-Z PINTAR (Pelajar Indonesia Tanpa Rokok/ Indonesian Tobacco-Free Students)
  • Souvenirs for schools and students (tumbler, block note, stickers, certificates)
  • Video and photos recap of school
  • Declaration posters of the signature of students and school teachers
  • One-page report of GEN-Z PINTAR result (attached in Bahasa)