Indonesia has some of the highest smoking rates in the world and it is estimated over there are about 200,000 tobacco related-deaths every year. While the country’s tobacco problems are well known, it’s important to remember that the victims aren’t always the smokers themselves.
Recently, a Facebook post about one such passive smoking victim has gone hugely viral in Indonesia. It tells the story of a woman, named Dela Noor Defasa, who lost her fiancé to an unspecified lung disease allegedly caused by inhaling secondhand smoke. In the viral post below (which was re-posted by Facebook user Dewi Sartika), Dela wrote that her fiancé had struggled with the disease for about a year until he passed away on Dec. 19.
STOP MEROKOK DIDEKAT ORANG YANG TIDAK MEROKOK!!. .Perokok pasif lebih berbahaya dibanding kalian yang merokok!!!1…
“God loves you more. God is tired of seeing you going in and out for medical check ups every month. God probably also loves me, because He doesn’t want to see me sad seeing you in pain every night, waking you up as the right side of your chest hurts,” Dela wrote in the post.
“You gave up 19 days before you promised to say those sacred vows.”
Dela wrote that she and her fiancé were supposed to get married on Jan. 6, but her fiancé passed away at the tender age of 24. They had been together for seven years.
Dewi’s re-post of Dela’s story has become immensely popular online, having been shared over 80,000 times on Facebook at the time of writing since it was posted on Dec. 29.
But can such a viral story, however moving, spur calls to enforce stricter regulations or change the culture of permissiveness for smoking in public areas (even in enclosed areas)? It’s probably nothing but a pipe dream at this point, as things continue to look grim in terms of tobacco controls in Indonesia despite similar viral stories in the recent past, including one in which a 1-month-old baby died from suspected second-hand smoke.
Instead, we have officials and smoking rights activists who argue that stricter rules and higher tariffs on cigarettes would have negative economic implications on Indonesia, while the Indonesian parliament is still considering passing a controversial tobacco bill that would roll back many important existing tobacco regulations such as the health warning requirements on tobacco products and the banning of cigarette ads aimed at children.