More than 70 percent of Indonesian men smoke. So do more than 40 percent of 13- to 15-year old boys. And then there are the legions of even younger smokers. Despite recent bans on smoking in public places and prohibitions on cigarette ads, public-health activists describe Indonesia as a “playground” for big tobacco companies like Philip Morris, which makes the country’s No. 2 cigarette as well as the ubiquitous brand evoked by Michelle Siu‘s photos of the kids she calls “Marlboro boys.”
Illham Muhamad, who has smoked since he was five, slowly inhales his first cigarette of the day. If his grandmother refuses to give him money for cigarettes he goes through withdrawal, crying and throwing fits.
Dihan Muhamad, who used to smoke up to two packs a day before cutting down, smokes while his mother breastfeeds his younger sibling.
Kids buy single cigarettes at a kiosk after school in Jakarta.
Dihan Muhamad enjoys his first cigarette at 7 a.m. before he attends first grade.
Dihan Muhamad smokes at home.
Ilham Hadi, a third grader, smokes in his bedroom.
Andika Prasetyo, who smokes about a pack a day.
Muhammad Taufik Hidayat, 14, has smoked since he was 11.
Ardian Azka Mubarok buys a single cigarette in the town of Garut.
Then he smokes at home. He’s five years old.