Why Big Tobacco loves Indonesia: smoking toddlers!

A two-year-old Indonesian boy has developed a two-pack -a-day smoking habit. The kid – filmed by The Sun newspaper – was given his first cigarette by his father when he was 18 months old and now he’s an addict. Most kids his age get a dummy to suck on when they get uptight, but not little Ardi Rizal. His mother thinks nothing of giving him smokes to keep him quiet. All the other kids in the neighbourhood think Ardi is sooo funny!

It’s child abuse, plain and simple:

Ardi Rizal is a two year-old from Musi Banyuasin in Sumatra with a difference – he is addicted to cigarettes and smokes two packs a day.

According to his mother Diana, “he’s totally addicted.  If he doesn’t gets cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall.’

She said that he suffered withdrawal symptoms when he was denied cigarettes. “He complains that he feels dizzy and sick if he doesn’t get a cigarette,” she said.

His father, Mohammed, first introduced Ardi to smoking at the age of eighteen months.

Ardi, who weighs about 25 kilos, is also too unfit to play with other children and instead gets around on a toy truck.

Ardi refuses to smoke anything other than his favourite brand.

When his father was asked if he thought smoking would harm Ardi, he said “Ardi looks pretty healthy to me. I don’t see the problem.”

This is the second video of a smoking Indonesian toddler to emerge this year, showing why the tobacco companies love the country – there’s just so much ignorance about the dangers of smoking. It’s also why ideas like “divine cigarettes“, fitted with magic filters that supposedly remove toxins and help cure cancer, catch on so easily.

With smoking killing 400,000 Indonesians a year and smoking rates climbing, it might be time for the government of President Yudhoyono to start thinking about his people’s well being instead of pandering to the tobacco industry. He could start by cracking down on tobacco marketing targeting children through the likes of Incubus, Jamiroquai, Anggun and James Blunt, all of whom have accepted tobacco sponsorship for the gigs in the country. Kelly Clarkson recently got into trouble for doing the same thing, but dropped her sponsor at the last minute.

University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman told The Sydney Morning Herald:

Indonesia is unfortunately regarded as a basket case in international tobacco control. It’s regarded as a smoker’s paradise. Several of the transnational tobacco companies – British American Tobacco and Phillip Morris – have recently opened up big financial ventures in Indonesia.

(Photo courtesy of nitnot)

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