While smoking rates are declining in many western countries, the opposite is happening in the Republic of Indonesia, where over 60% of the male population regularly smokes and uses tobacco. When Canadian photographer Michelle Siu heard about this alarming statistic, she felt it was something she needed to document.
Smoking has become ingrained in Indonesian culture where some children are having their first cigarette by the age of four, Siu tells TIME. Indonesia’s economy is dependent upon the tobacco industry, which has proven to be extremely profitable. Many Indonesians make their livelihood through tobacco farming, and are surrounded by cigarettes from an early age. Smoking regulations in Indonesia are few and far between, and it is not uncommon to see children smoking cigarettes on public buses on their way to and from school.
|Dihan Muhamad has his first cigarette at 7AM at his home before he attends his first grade class|
|Dihan Muhamad smokes in his home in a village near the town of Garut, Indonesia on February 10, 2014.|
|Groups of children buy single cigarettes and light them at a kiosk after school on February 12, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia.|
|Children smoke on a public bus home from school on February 12, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Although there are smoking regulations in public places there is a lack of enforcement.|
|Ilham Hadi, who has smoked up to two packs a day and began when he was four years old.|
|Ompong, which means "toothless" in Bahasa, poses for a photograph as he has a cigarette in South Jakarta|
|Eman poses for a photo as he smokes a cigarette while clutching a bag of juice.|
|Rian, who smokes occasionally, poses for a photo.|
|Andika Prasetyo, who smokes about a pack a day, has a cigarette outside an internet cafe where children are smoking inside in Depok|
|Ilham Hadi, who has smoked up to two packs a day and began when he was four years old, poses for a photo wearing his third grade uniform while smoking in his bedroom as his younger brother looks on|
Photos credit to Michelle Siu via Time