Nearly two percent of all Indonesian children by the age of 4 have started smoking, said a local health official on Thursday.
“The phenomenon of smoking children and toddlers can not be handled piecemeal. There must be political will from the government to protect children from cigarette addiction,” the head of the Indonesian National Commission for Child Protection, Arist Merdeka Sirait, told the Jakarta Post.
Two years ago, a disturbing video emerged of a two-year-old Indonesian boy chain smoking after the habit was introduced to him by his father when he was 18 months old. The boy clearly took drags from the cigarette and exhaled plumes of smoke. According to reports, the child had developed a habit of around 40 cigarettes a day.
Another video emerged of a 4-year-old boy smoking in Java that similarly caused an international stir. “Ilham started smoking when he was four years old … his smoking habit grew day by day and now he can finish smoking two packs of cigarettes a day,” the boy’s father, Umar, said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Arist, in the Post report, said Indonesia urgently needs “tobacco control regulation, it cannot be delayed.”“For the umpteenth time, the Indonesian government is reminded by these child smokers that smoking addiction in Indonesia has already reached full alert, is real and needs further handling,” he added, according to the Jakarta Globe.