On Monday, December 27, 2010, Noor Atika Hasanah, a petite 28-year-old secretary in Jakarta, updated her Twitter feed. From her bed at the Jakarta Respiratory Centre clinic, she wrote: “To smoking parents, please do smoke as far as possible from your children … so that they won’t get lung cancer.”
Atika’s own lung problem had her down again, recalled her brother Faisal Rizal. Her parents had checked her into a clinic. Later, Atika wrote that she was still waiting for a transfer to a bigger hospital.
On Thursday at 5:35am, the move happened and Atika notified her Facebook friends: “Noor just checked in @PROF. DR. SULIANTI SAROSO hospital.” A friend wrote back, “Please don’t stay too long …. Get well soon sis!”
Noor Atika Hasanah passed away later that day.
Five months after Noor Atika Hasanah’s death, Rizal said Atika Hasanah’s passing was “because of God’s will. The cigarette smoke is only the pelengkap penderita.” He used a Bahasa Indonesia grammatical term which means “direct object.”
Atika’s chronicling of her illness offered friends and family an unusual glimpse at the consequences of runaway tobacco consumption in Indonesia, yet her death to tobacco-related disease is not unusual in one of the world’s last holdouts against signing the World Health Organization's treaty to limit the tobacco industry’s influence by restricting tobacco advertising and raising excise taxes.
With a population of around 240 million and weak government regulations, Indonesia is one of Big Tobacco’s smoking giants. As of 2009, 28 percent of Indonesian adults were smokers and more than half of men smoke, according to the World Lung Foundation.
Around 200,000 people die each year in Indonesia because of smoking-related sickness. At least 25,000 of the dead are like Atika — young, female and passive smokers, according to the WHO.