Indonesia is going through the worst tobacco epidemic this country had ever faced. The situation is getting worse day by day. Remember Aldi Rizal the chain smoker boy?
Aldi started smoking when he was just 2 years old. The whole world was shocked to see a 2-year-old boy smoking 4 packs a day. He was sent to Jakarta for rehabilitation. Just imagine a boy started smoking before he learned to speak. He is now a healthy young boy and doesn’t want to smoke anymore.
We all know how bad smoking is for anyone’s health. I don’t think I have to describe why smoking is bad but in Indonesia, the story is completely different. There are no strict anti smoking laws in Indonesia. Therefore you will see ads of cigarette companies everywhere, they even sponsor big events. As a result, people there don’t generally think that smoking is bad. 57% of Indonesian men are regular smokers and most of them start smoking from a very young age. Some even start smoking before they reach age 10. As a result of this tobacco epidemic, 217,000 people die each year in Indonesia.
Aldi went through the hardest time of his life at the age of just 3. His mother Diana said “He (would) start to smash his head against the wall. He was crazy, hurting himself if he didn’t get a cigarette,”. She was accused of Aldi’s situation and people often questioned her parenting skills. She said “I am a weak mom. He always threatens me if I didn’t give him money. … I (was) afraid he (was) going to die.”
Aldi went through a rehabilitation process and quit smoking but the recovery was not easy for him. Therefore he started overeating and become obese. As a result, he went through another rehabilitation process and now he healthy 8 years old boy. Therefore no one seems happier than his mother. Now he wants to help others to stop smoking. In an interview with CNN, he said, “Please don’t smoke. Don’t even try it. It’s hard to quit.”
Indonesia is suffering from the highest child smoker rate in the world. Diana believes Aldi’s addiction was the result of heavy smoker population of Indonesia. The influence of smokers forced the boy to start smoking. Therefore Aldi is not the only child in Indonesia suffering from this deadly habit. You might think how is it even possible but in Indonesia the story is completely different.
You might think how is it even possible but in Indonesia the story is completely different. Almost no regulations on cigarette made this island country a smokers paradise. Indonesia suffers from the highest percentage of male smokers in the world.
Also, Tobacco use among male youth is one of the highest in the whole world.
This picture shows the youth (Under 15) smoking trend around the world. Teens are also heavily addicted to nicotine.
The situation now is very bad but some initiative is being taken to tackle this epidemic. Indonesia’s ministry of health is trying to fix this issue by joining together and seeking support from world health organisation. They are willing to pass 6 policies which have been proven to work by showing good results. Now it’s on the government’s behalf to better implement those policies. The health ministry is also trying to help and support those who are willing to quit smoking. It was easy for Aldi to recover because he got the attention of the government and media. But everyone is not as lucky as him. Quitting smoking can be very hard without proper support.If Indonesian government can’t stop the free floating ads and sponsors than the situation would be very hard to fix.
If Indonesian government can’t stop the free floating ads and sponsors than the situation would be very hard to fix. The Indonesian government must act strictly if they want to secure the well being of their people.
Also published on Medium.