A comparison of smoking in the United States and Indonesia by Kelvin Widjaja

The United states has a population of approximately 308,824,646 people. Between those numbers, Twenty percent of the population is 14 years old or less, 67.1% is 15-64 years old and 12.7% is 65 years and above. This is a large number compared to countries like Indonesia. Indonesia has about 237,512,355 people. Of these, 28.4% is 14 years and under, 65.7% is 15-64 years, and 5.8% is 65 years and above. So more of the Indonesian population is young when compared to the U.S. In the U.S. you have to be a 18 years of or older to purchase or to consume cigarettes. Even though Indonesia has the same rule about smoking or buying cigarettes in public, the sellers never really care and never ask for proof of age by asking for an I.D. Research has found that as of 2005, 21% of Americans were smokers (about 45 million people). The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in the United States about 346 thousand people die every year, although a more recent figure puts the number of smoking related deaths in the U.S. at approximately 438 million. Most of people in Indonesia start to smoke around age 13 or 14. The cost of cigarettes in Indonesia is also really cheap compared to the United States—1 pack of cigarettes in Indonesia costs around 7000 Rupiah or about 70 cents. Even kids can afford that kind of price. Imported cigarettes tend to be more expensive than the local cigarettes. People in Indonesia that are below the poverty line usually make their own cigarettes, which is cheaper than buying from a store. This practice or habit is called lingwe (Linting Dhewe) or homemade cigarettes. Essentially, the lingwe cigarette is more dangerous than a packaged cigarette that a company produces, because the homemade cigarette does not have any filter in it. Indonesia has really good soil where they can harvest tobacco in vast areas. So, there are fewer barriers to smoking for young people in Indonesia—it’s cheap, and you can easily make your own cigarettes if you have to because so much tobacco is produced, and even though it is illegal for young people to get cigarettes, very few stores check I.D. or try to stop the sale of cigarettes to an underage teen. For the consumption of tobacco, the United States has bigger numbers compared to Indonesia. The U.S. consumes 0.43 million out of 7 million tonnes or 6.2% and Indonesia has 0.17 million tonnes or 2.4%. Women are less likely to smoke in Indonesia compared to the United States because of the local culture. People in smaller cities tend to discriminate if the women are smoking, but for in the larger cities, it is more acceptable. Indonesia has plenty of non-smoking areas, but many of the people do not obey the rule. They smoke almost everywhere, except hospitals, malls, and schools. Restaurants in Indonesia are usually divided into two separates room—one of those rooms is non-smoking, and the other one is a smoking area. It is the way it used to be in restaurants in the United States, except for very expensive restaurants. Even in schools, because of the lack of monitoring of the students, many people in Indonesia take advantage of using restrooms for smoking areas even though they are in a school. Actually, that’s not so different from American schools!

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