A 2-year-old Indonesian boy who smoked 40 cigarettes a day his receiving treatment to wean him off smoking, the head of the national children's commission said.
Ardi Rizal started consuming cigarettes when he was 18 months old and images of him smoking have been shown on international television after local media reported on his nicotine habit.
The boy has been under the care of the National Commission on Child Protection since late last month and is receiving psychological therapy, commission chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said.
"We have managed to reduce cigarettes he smokes from 40 to 20," he said. "We keep him busy with activities such as learning, playing and going on recreational trips, but it's very hard to wean tobacco addicts off cigarettes and it takes time."
Sirait said the commission was also treating two other smoking infants.
60% of Indonesian men smoke
"Even though no statistics are available, these cases show that smoking among children is rampant, not only among children over five years old but also infants," he said. "Many smoking parents are unaware of the danger of smoking and they just give children their cigarettes when they ask for them."
He also blamed the phenomenon on blatant cigarette advertising on television. Indonesia allows cigarette advertising in the form of electronic, printed and outdoor media, even though images of cigarette packs and someone smoking are banned in advertisements. The country produced 240 billion cigarettes in 2008, according to the Trade Ministry.
Nearly one-third of Indonesia's 230 million people and more than 60% of its male population smokes, according to the Demographic Institute of the University of Indonesia's School of Economics. Among youths, 13.5% use tobacco, it said.
The government is drafting a tobacco control regulation that will include restrictions on cigarette advertisements, a ban on selling cigarettes to children as well as restrictions on sponsorship by tobacco companies. - (Sapa, June 2010)
Smoking toddler shock