An 8-year-old in West Java has attracted the attention of Indonesian Child Welfare officials with his four year old smoking habit. That’s right—he started smoking at the age of four and now smokes 25 cigarettes a day, reported AFP. When not constantly given cigarettes, the young boy will “smash glass windows or whatever’s around”, according to his father.
A 2006 World Health Organization report found that 37% of Indonesian high school and college students smoke. That is the highest rate of young smokers in the world. The report also said that around 90 million Indonesians, or 40% of the general population, smoke. For the general male population, the rate is well over 50%.
One reason may be that the cigarettes here are delicious and cheap. “Kretek” (cloves and other spices mixed with the tobacco) are delectable. While “kretek” was banned in the US along with other “flavored cigarettes”, the market here in Indonesia where they are produced continues to thrive. A pack of decent smokes—kretek, regular, or menthol—costs a little over a buck.
As for the 8 year old smoker, he will be given “psycho-social therapy to divert his attention from smoking to playing”, said the chairman of Indonesia’s Commission on Child Protection. This treatment was successful in curing an Indonesian two year old in 2010 from his 40 cigarette a day smoking habit.
While hopefully Indonesian parents will take note of these extreme cases and caution their kids about the dangers of smoking, older Indonesians like this gentlemen cycling home after a day of work will continue puffing. Selamat merokok!