A video of a toddler seen smoking on a video has created huge furore on the web. The video of the 2 year old Ardi Rizal from Sumatra has surfaced on YouTube where he is seen puffing away. The video spread on to social media like a fire. The blog Gawker called the baby “totally cooler than you”.
Some netizens have however differed in their opinion like user Faldo 77 who said, “His parents should be jailed …”
Rizal’s parents say that he throws a tantrum when he is refused a cigarette. He was first given a puff by his father when he was 18 months old.
A reporter had recently visited Rizal’s village in Musi banyuasin in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province.
The boy’s father Mohammad Rizal said, “I’m not worried about his health, he looks healthy. “He cries and throws tantrums when we don’t let him smoke. He’s addicted.”
There have been instances in the past when youngsters have been caught smoking on tape. There was a video on YouTube in March where a 4 year old Indonesian boy was seen blowing smoke rings was seen on You Tube.
Indonesia has seen a disturbing trend.
As per data from Central Statistics Agency 25% of Indonesian children in the age bracket of 3 to 15 have tried cigarettes and 3.2 % of them are active smokers. This percentage goes up increases by 0.4% when the age bracket is considered from 5 to 9 years.
Child advocates have been speaking out about the risk to the health of children from second hand smoke and also the pressure on the young kids to pick up smoking. One third population of the country uses tobacco.
The chairman on Indonesia’s child protection commission Seto Mulyadi says that the increase of aggressive advertising and smoking parents have increased the risk of children picking up the risk of smoking.
“A law to protect children and passive smokers should be introduced immediately in this country,” he said.
Smoking has been recognized as addictive by a health law in 2009. An anti smoking coalition is also pushing for greater restriction on smoking in public places and bans on advertising and bigger warnings on cigarette packages.
A bill on tobacco has been held up due to opposition from the tobacco industry. The bill would ban the advertisement and sponsorship of cigarette smoking in public places and would also add graphic images on the dangers of smoking in the packages.
A senior official from the Industry Ministry, Benny Wahyudi has said that there was a plan from the government to limit the number of smokers. One such step was to drop production from 245 billion cigarettes to 240 billion cigarettes.
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“The government is aware of the impact of smoking on health and has taken efforts, including lowering cigarette production, increasing its tax and limiting smoking areas,” he said.
He also said that the ban on advertisement of cigarette smoking is primarily aimed at reducing children from taking up smoking.
Indonesia is the world’s third largest tobacco consumer and it would be difficult to impose a non smoking message in the country.
Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, a member of the National Commission of Tobacco Control has said that the country must also handle the social conditions that lead to smoking like family influence and peer pressure.
“The promotion of health has to be integrated down to the smallest units in our society, from public health centers and local health care centers to the family,” he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
Endang Sedyaningsih, the Health Minister said that preventing youngsters from smoking will be difficult in a country where smoking is considered a good thing as the companies sponsor everything from scholarships to events.
“This is the challenge we face in protecting youth from the dangers of smoking,” she said in a statement on the ministry’s website.