Smoking toddler highlights Indonesia`s tobacco addiction

A new video of a smoking Indonesian toddler has emerged to shock health experts in Indonesia.

Jakarta: A new video of a smoking Indonesian toddler has emerged to shock health experts and provide further graphic illustration of the Southeast Asian country`s growing addiction to tobacco.

The parents of a two-year-old boy seen smoking in a clip posted on The Sun newspaper`s website are to be investigated, Indonesian officials said after the video drew worldwide attention.

Chubby Ardi Rizal laughs and responds to the adults around him as he sits on his plastic tricycle and inhales deeply from frequent drags on a cigarette.

His father reportedly gave him his first cigarette when he was 18 months old and now he smokes 40 a day. His mother says he beats his head against the wall unless he gets nicotine, but his father insists he is "healthy".

Child Protection Ministry official Heru Kasidi said the family would be investigated for what would be considered a clear case of child abuse in many countries.

It`s the second time this year Indonesia has been embarrassed by such media coverage.

Another video was posted on the Internet last month showing an Indonesian boy aged about four puffing on a locally made clove cigarette, blowing smoke rings and swearing with the encouragement of adults.

Weak regulations -- Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia not to have signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control -- have enabled tobacco companies to target young Indonesians with advertising and events promotions.

According to the World Health Organisation, cigarette consumption in the Southeast Asian archipelago soared 47 percent in the 1990s.

Almost 70 percent of men over 20 years of age smoke, and regular smoking among boys aged 15 to 19 increased from 36.8 percent in 1997 to 42.6 percent in 2000.

Bureau Report

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