When I came across this video in the news today, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Most of the time you want to believe that what someone is telling you is the truth. In this case I was really hoping they were wrong.
I’m talking about the Indonesian 2-year-old baby smoking video that went viral a little over a month ago. Some people seem to think it’s funny and I admit it is very strange to see a 2-year-old acting with the mannerisms of someone at least ten times his age, but what is happening to his lungs is far more disturbing and, in my opinion, really no laughing matter.
I wanted to believe that it was nothing more than a camera trick involving realistic looking cigarettes. I realize this is sort of unlikely because it sure looks like the real deal and in fact, it turned out to be no illusion. I voiced my initial reaction to the video in an earlier post and now here are my latest thoughts.
CBS sent over reporters to spend some time with the family and found that it was true after all. What shocks me most is that while the parents say they would like to stop the baby, they can’t stand to see him going through withdrawal. My question to them is, “Isn’t watching him throw a tantrum better than seeing him battle emphysema before he even hits his teen years?”
When I started looking into it more, perhaps many of us are passing judgment from the understanding we have of the dangers of smoking as Americans. Gone are the days when tobacco ads tried to make smoking seem like a healthy choice. Today we are living in a decade marked by smoking bans in most public places and accessibility to effective medications like Chantix to help ease the pains of the quitting process.
In the CBS video, there is a clip from Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. After hearing what he had to say about the topic of children smoking in Indonesia, it made me realize that while seeing a video like this comes as a shock to us, it’s the norm in Indonesia. Myers also stated a few shocking statistics during that CBS interview:
1. Over 31% of all children in Indonesia smoke before the age of 10
2. Over 80% of Indonesian smokers begin as teens
3. Indonesia is the 3rd largest tobacco consumer
Fortunately, the video does end on a more positive note. Currently little Aldi is being helped by a local health officer and the Indonesian Ministry of Health is preparing to implement some new methods of tobacco control. While currently some help is offered for those who want to quit, there is not a lot of preventative education on the harmful effects of smoking. Hopefully, new and stronger tobacco control programs in Indonesia will begin to appear in light of the recent media attention.
Have you quit or are you currently trying to quit?