'Excuse me, sir. Please don't smoke here'. A qualitative study of social enforcement of smoke-free policies in Indonesia

Health Policy Plan. 2015 Oct;30(8):995-1002. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czu103. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


Objective: District policies were recently put into place in Indonesia prohibiting smoking in public spaces. This study sought to (1) assess participants' general knowledge of secondhand smoke (SHS) dangers; (2) assess participants' awareness of and specific knowledge of smoke-free (SF) policies; and (3) assess the extent to which such policies are socially enforced and gather examples of successful social enforcement.

Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted in Bogor and Palembang cities with both community members and key informants such as government officials, non-government agency staff, religious leaders and health workers.

Results: Participants in both Palembang and Bogor find SF policy important. Although there was awareness of SHS dangers and SF policies, accurate knowledge of the dangers and an in-depth understanding of the policies varied. There was a high level of support for the SF policies in both cities among both smokers and non-smokers. Many participants did have experience asking a smoker not to smoke in an area where it was restricted, even if their comfort in doing so varied. There was, however, a higher level of comfort in telling smokers to stop or to move away from pregnant women and children. Hesitation to socially enforce the policies was especially present when asking men of status and/or community leaders to stop smoking, but overall participants felt they could comfortably ask someone to obey the law.

Conclusion: Palembang and Bogor may be evolving towards creating social norms in support of prohibiting smoking in public spaces. If provided with more support from government and law officials, such as government officials themselves promoting the policies and demonstrating compliance, and renewed efforts to promote and enforce policies in general were made, Indonesians in these cities may feel more confident protecting non-smokers from SHS.

Keywords: Attitudes; health knowledge; smoke-free policies; smoking; smoking behaviour; social norms; tobacco control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Indonesia
  • Male
  • Smoke-Free Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution