Remember the smoking toddler? The Indonesian two-year-old made international headlines last spring when a video of his chain-smoking habit went viral on the Internet.
Since then, the boy has received intensive rehab and play therapy. His parents say he’s kicked his smoking habit, after a withdrawal period marked by some fierce tantrums. He’s finally been released from rehab, and is home with his parents.
Now, Aldi Rizal is living like a regular kid.
The remaining problem: he wasn’t that different from other Indonesian kids before. MSNBC had no trouble finding smokers as young as five just lounging around on the streets in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
Indonesia has virtually no regulation on tobacco. As a result, cigarette companies market their products however they want, to whomever they want. Free concert tickets and sporting events are routine parts of their marketing strategies; obviously these appeal to teens and even younger kids.
Of course, Aldi wasn’t hooked in by a free concert offer. The toddler can barely talk. Which brings us around to the other obvious problem with this story: Since when does a two-year-old need rehab for a drug problem?
Very few people on this earth have less personal agency than toddlers. They may whine and scream and throw things with all their little might, but ultimately they live at the whims of their parents. Parents who are, one would hope, capable of noticing that their child has developed a serious drug addiction and taking the drugs away.
My kids hate the one-piece-of-Halloween-candy-per-day rule, but that does not mean they gorge themselves endlessly on candy. It means they have a hissy fit when I enforce the rules.
How was this kid continuing to get access to cigarettes? What parent would allow that? I know there are cultural differences, but this seems like a pretty huge parenting fail. Did the parents get therapy and rehab too before the boy was sent home with them?
Want to help Indonesian kids get clear of cigarettes? Indonesia’s largest tobacco company is the American giant Philip Morris, owners of Kraft, Miller beer and other household products. Let them know what you think of their foreign business practices by not buying their stuff at home.
Worried about your own kids’ risk for smoking? Check out these tips to keep kids’ off drugs.
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