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Indonesia’s smoking affair detailed in “Marlboro Boys” project


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Photographer Michelle Siu has documented Indonesia’s mass-consumption of cigarettes through a project that consists of portraits of children who are addicted to smoking.

There are lots of smokers all around the world, although doctors and scientists are warning them about the health risks. Governments are trying to get people to stop smoking and most countries have banned cigarette marketing.

The situation is very different in Indonesia where tobacco ads are allowed. Moreover, if you find it weird for kids to smoke, then you might be very surprised to hear that children in Indonesia start smoking years before their 10th birthday.

A photographer has set on a quest to document this growing problem. Michelle Siu has traveled to Indonesia and has captured a series of striking portraits of youngsters smoking. The project is called “Marlboro Boys” and it is definitely worth a closer look.

Upsetting portraits of Indonesian kids being addicted to cigarettes before turning 10 years old

Smoking in Indonesia is a very common thing. You could think that this is ordinary regardless of where you live, but wait until you find out more about Indonesia. The problem is very serious as more than 300,000 people die every year from smoking-related illnesses.

Surely, the population stands at about 250 million people, but there are simply too many deaths caused by severe tobacco usage.

Perhaps the bigger issue is that Indonesians start smoking while being very young. A study has revealed that more than 30% of the youngsters have smoked at least one cigar before celebrating their 10th birthday.

It is said that about 67% of all men are smokers. This is a result of very cheap tobacco coupled with the fact that cigarettes are heavily advertised throughout a city.

Photographer Michelle Siu has been planning to tackle Indonesia’s social, economic, and political issues for a very long time. Her project is now a reality and it is referred to as “Marlboro Boys” because Marlboro are some of the most popular cigarettes in the country.

Michelle Siu’s “Marlboro Boys” project is aimed at raising awareness of this growing problem

The portraits are well-taken and they might create some kind of shock to some people. As shocking as this may be, Michelle Siu says that she is hoping to raise awareness about this subject. Moreover, she is hopeful that Indonesia’s close relationship with cigarettes will end at some point in the future.

The photographer has learned that some elementary school kids are smoking up to a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. Another issue is that some are smoking the so-called “kretek” cigars, which combine tobacco, cloves, and other flavors. The level of nicotine in kretek is much higher than the one found in conventional cigarettes.

As disturbing as the photos may be, the “Marlboro Boys” projects is here to send an important message to all the people in world. The World Health Organization is fighting against tobacco consumption, but Indonesia is not among its partners.

More information about this subject and Michelle Siu can be found at the photographer’s official website.

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