“If you don’t buy me toys, I’ll start smoking again!”
An Indonesian child who gained worldwide infamy for smoking aged just two years old has quit. But has told his mother he will smoke again unless she buys him toys. Ardi Rizal was found by a US news show and became famous when a shocking video of him puffing on a cigarette went viral.
The show found that Rizal wasn’t an isolated case in the country however when they discovered another smoker aged just two called Chairul, who lives in a fishing village in Eastern Java. He was shown lighting up a cigarette straight after waking up from a nap, with help from his granddad.
The grandfather told the show he allows Chairul to smoke because it tastes good, ‘like bread with chocolate.’ As Chairul smokes beside him, he said he doesn’t think it is a problem. ‘He sometimes smokes two packs a day,’ he said. He then added: ‘If the boy doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t feel good.’
It’s all right, he said, ‘as long as he drinks enough coffee with his cigarettes.’ In another town, ABC’s 20/20 programme found seven-year-old Maulana, who even blows out rings of smoke as his mother watches on. He is said to smoke a pack a day. His mother says she knows the cigarettes are deadly, but cannot take them away otherwise ‘he gets weak and starts crying’.
The show accuses tobacco companies of exploiting loose advertising rules to target young people in a country where there is no age limit to buy cigarettes.
Eventually, the show’s crew tracked down Ardi, now a chubby 4-year-old living in Sumatra, who was wearing some flamboyant sunglasses. The boy famously was supposed to have quit after the country’s embarrassed officials got him in rehab.
But his mother said he uses it as a threat. ‘If I don’t buy him toys, he threatens to start smoking again,’ said his mother. Asked if he still smokes, he replies that he will ‘never smoke again’.
But his mother said she caught him with a cigarette recently because people in town offer them to him when he visits.
This is so sad. Those babies should be nowhere near cigarettes let alone smoking one and two packs a day.