Smoking-Related Social Control in Indonesian Single-Smoker Couples

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BACKGROUND: The majority of Indonesian smokers are men and those who are married nearly always have a non-smoking wife (i.e. single-smoker couples). Previous studies have suggested that Indonesian women dislike smoking. However, contesting their husbands' smoking could be seen as disrespectful. In this study, we examine whether, and if so how, wives employ social control tactics to change their husbands' smoking and how the smokers perceive the tactics.

METHOD: In-depth interviews (N = 12) with five single-smoker couples (N = 10 individual interviews) and two non-smoking wives of smokers (N = 2) were conducted in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. We used a social control framework and thematic analysis approach to analyse the transcribed interviews.

RESULTS: Three themes emerged from smokers and their wives: (1) although the wives know that smoking is bad, they have to tolerate it, (2) wives and their husbands find it important to maintain harmony and (3) their family's needs serve as common ground. All the wives interviewed exerted social control to some degree, especially when they were pregnant or had children. Smokers reacted positively to social control and agreed to child-related house rules, but not to requests to give up smoking.

CONCLUSION: Wives do exert social control and smokers are willing to accommodate and adapt their smoking. However, wives' influence on smoking may be limited in Indonesia, and focusing on managing their husbands' smoking at home rather than overall smoking might be more fruitful.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Early online date10-Nov-2020
Publication statusPublished - 10-Nov-2020


  • Smoking
  • Spouses
  • Qualitative research
  • Social control
  • Health behaviour
  • MEN

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