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Smoking Toddler Cuts Back On Cigarettes

Remember the “smoking toddler,” the two-year-old Indonesian boy who became an international sensation last month when a video circulated of him chain-smoking?

People were universally outraged at the sight, even more so when they learned that the boy’s father first gave him cigarettes when he was only 18 months old.

Good news: according to The Sun, Ardi Rizal has cut down his habit to 15 cigarettes a day from the 40 he had been smoking.

A child welfare official told The Sun that the child’s addiction is being treated with “therapy focused on playing.”

Previously, Indonesian officials had offered to buy the family a car if the boy quits smoking.

As I’ve written before, the smoking toddler isn’t such an anomaly in Indonesia, where 25 percent of children ages 3-to-15 have tried cigarettes.  A decade ago, the average age of beginner smokers was 19 but a recent study found that the average age for trying cigarettes is now seven. Among those kids who have tried smoking, 3.2 percent are said to be active, addicted smokers.

In Indonesia, where the rate of child smokers continues to rise, there is no ban on public smoking and no age limit on who can purchase cigarettes. Big Tobacco companies need to take responsibility and stop marketing to kids.

Meanwhile, the toddler smoking problem apparently isn’t limited to Indonesia. The Sun recently wrote about a Chinese toddler who is addicted to smoking and drinking beer.

The little girl, Ya Wen, 3, apparently took up smoking after being hit by a speeding van last year.

Her mother later found her secretly smoking cigarettes, which she stole from her father. The girl is now addicted to cigarettes and her parents say she also drinks beer.

“Three glasses of beer is no problem to her,” her mother told The Sun.

In both of these cases, I fear there is more to the story than we know or can understand. It’s hard to imagine how any parent would allow such a young child to smoke and drink. I won’t even let my kids inhale second hand smoke or drink soda!

Photo: Hindustan Times

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