Indonesia may have its next infamous child smoker after the disturbing story of a 2-year-old boy from Sukabumi, West Java, recently went viral due to his extremely dangerous addiction.
The boy, identified by his initials RAP, has reportedly been addicted to smoking cigarettes for about a month and a half, burning through up to two packs a day. According to his mother, identified as Maryati, he picked up his horrible habit after he started becoming intrigued by cigarettes and picking their discarded butts off the floor.
“It started with picking up cigarette butts and now he’s smoking,” Maryati told local news website SukabumiUpdate yesterday.
Maryati added that she and her husband, Misbahudin, found it difficult to say no to RAP’s nicotine cravings as the boy would throw a tantrum until he’s given a cigarette. She said that he also needs to have a puff before he can go to sleep.
Misbahudin, who himself is an occasional smoker, said he was surprised that his son could puff like a seasoned smoker, and that the boy would even bum cigarettes from other adults if his parents wouldn’t feed his habit.
“I don’t even smoke that often. I only smoke at work. When he (RAP) smokes it has to be with a cup of mochaccino,” he told SukabumiUpdate.
RAP’s parents say they are going to seek an unspecified rehabilitation treatment for their son, and the boy is apparently open to the idea.
There has been no reports of possible government intervention in RAP’s rehabilitation nor his parents possible prosecution for criminal negligence or child endangerment.
Indonesia is unfortunately known for having some of the highest smoking rates in the world, with government statistics showing that nearly one-third of the population are active tobacco users, which includes an alarmingly high number of child smokers.
Aldi Rizal, the infamous smoking baby of Indonesia who was known to smoke as many as 40 cigarettes a day at the age of 2, became the poster child for the problem of child smokers in Indonesia back in 2010 (he has since supposedly kicked the habit). Amid the international outcry and embarrassment over his case, the government promised to pass more measures to stop children from getting addicted to tobacco.
But it is clear that lawmakers still aren’t doing nearly enough to prevent young people from picking up the deadly habit, as their own statistics show that the number of smokers under 18 in Indonesia rose in recent years, from 7.2% in 2014 to 8.8% in 2015.
While the government does indeed have numerous anti-tobacco programs, it is at cross-purposes with other parts of the government that are actively supporting the tobacco industry by, for example, keeping tariffs on tobacco low so that they remain affordable to the vast majority of poor Indonesians.
The government has also continuously refused to ratify the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), and it’s the only country in Asia yet to sign and ratify the convention, which would, among other things, minimize the exposure of tobacco advertising that’s so prevalent in the country.
The WHO estimates about 200,000 Indonesians dies due to tobacco-related diseases each year. Think about that the next time a government official goes on about the country needing to execute drug dealers to stop a supposed drug emergency. Nicotine is the true drug scourge of Indonesia, and the government is sitting back and counting its tobacco tax revenues while it lets another generation get hooked.