Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Roadmap to a tobacco epidemic: transnational tobacco companies invade Indonesia
  1. Richard D Hurt1,
  2. Jon O Ebbert1,
  3. Anhari Achadi2,
  4. Ivana T Croghan1
  1. 1Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Research Program, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2School of Public Health, Center for Family Welfare, University of Indonesia (FKM UI), Health Policy Administration, Depok, Indonesia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Richard D Hurt, Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Research Program, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA; rhurt{at}


Background Indonesia is the world's fifth largest cigarette market in the world but for decades, transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) have had limited success infiltrating this market, due to their inability to compete in the kretek market. Kreteks are clove/tobacco cigarettes that most Indonesians smoke.

Objective To determine how Phillip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) have now successfully achieved a substantial market presence in Indonesia.

Methods We analyzed previously secret, tobacco industry documents, corporate reports on Indonesia operations, the Tobacco Trade press, Indonesia media, and “The Roadmap.”

Results Internal, corporate documents from BAT and PMI demonstrate that they had known for decades that kreteks are highly carcinogenic. Despite that knowledge, BAT and PMI now own and heavily market these products, as well as new more westernised versions of kreteks. BAT and PMI used their successful basic strategy of keeping cigarettes affordable by maintaining the social responsibility of smoking and opposing smoke-free workplace laws but in the 21st century, they added the acquisition of and westernisation of domestic kretek manufacturers as an additional strategy. These acquisitions allowed them to assert influences on health policy in Indonesia and to grow their business under current government policy embodied in the 2007-2020 Roadmap of Tobacco Products Industry and Excise Policy which calls for increased cigarette production by 12% over the next 15 years.

Conclusion PMI and Bat have successfully entered and are expanding their share in the Indonesia cigarette market. Despite the obvious and pervasive influence of the tobacco industry on policy decisions, the Indonesian government should ratify the FCTC and implement effective legislation to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke and revise the Roadmap to protect future generations of Indonesians.

  • Indonesia
  • transnational tobacco companies
  • global tobacco control
  • tobacco industry documents
  • international health
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • public policy

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant R01 CA90791, ‘Tobacco Industry Documents on ETS—The Next Front’. The funder had no role in the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to submit the article for publication. All authors had full access to all of the data in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. RDH and JOE assisted in researching, writing and editing the manuscript. AA reviewed the manuscript and assisted in researching and writing the manuscript.

  • Competing interest None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles