Tuesday 1 June 2010


In Jakarta Indonesia, a two-year old boy was recently discovered to have a two pack a day habit. Not gum, not trading cards, I’m talking cigarettes. There is a video on CNN.com that will leave you speechless. To make matters worse, this child is also deemed obese already, and smokes like some veteran pool hustler – he can blow smoke rings, do tricks with his smokes, and inhales with the confidence of James Dean. All I keep thinking is dear god your poor two-year-old little lungs are utterly doomed!

The thing is, in Indonesia, (clearly!!!) they haven’t caught up to speed on the whole smoking will KILL you thing - and apparently stuffing your child full of food within an inch of its life is also par for the course. The Mother, who they interviewed at the airport, holding her son who was wearing nothing but a diaper; okay, it’s a hot region, but maybe that should make the list of things to change as well, makes it sound like it’s some unfortunate habit he just picked up hanging out with the wrong crowd, and well, she’s going to try and make him cut down. CUT DOWN???? He’s a flipping toddler addicted to one of the strongest drugs in the world that pitches fits when his nicotine level dips too low and bangs his head into walls. Houston - or in this case, Jakarta!, there is a serious problem!

I’m not one to tell others how to parent; in fact, it’s a cardinal rule of mine even though it’s sometimes extremely difficult to refrain from sharing my opinion. But in this case, I think all can agree that this situation is flat out child abuse. The Chairman of Indonesia’s National Commission for Child Protection was quoted as saying that Aldi, the child in question, was a victim of his environment in which smoking is the norm (Gee, you think?!) and he clearly…wait for it….just needs a distraction to kick the habit. WOW. There are some strong fighting words Mr. Chairman. You hear that Mom?! We’re not going to take away your child, instead, how about engaging Aldi in a nice distracting game of eye-spy? Fisher Price, if you’re out there, LISTEN up and get in on this racket. Why should Philip Morris be making all the money in that region, get in there and get these kids some gosh darn toys. Even better, fly over some chocolate cigarettes, apparently you’d make a fortune!!

What’s even scarier is this case is not a fluke. Apparently in the region, it’s quite common for children to take up smoking. A study by the Child Protection Commission - as we’ve seen, their title is clearly an oxymoron - demonstrates that between 2001-2007, the number of children smoking between the ages of five and nine jumped 400%. And that study doesn’t even take into account those smoking who are under five. (I can’t even believe I just typed that sentence).

My question is (besides, how does a kid who smokes that much have time to eat anyway??) – and Aldi’s mother this one is for you – who the hell is buying cigarettes for these kids, not to mention lighting them?Do they have their own ATM cards too? Does Aldi jump on the back of his motorcycle and say, ‘Ma, I’m heading to the shop to buy some fags, I'll catch you later!’ To my knowledge most kids that age have barely mastered running and jumping, let alone seeing over a counter to pick out what brand of smokes they want to try out.

Aldi’s mother claims she wants her son to quit, and in fact didn’t want him to start in the first place (um, sweetheart, you’re in charge, not the other way around), but says that she has to be gentle with him. You’re beyond gentle lady. Here is what I suggest: strap that bulging ball of dough down to a nice teak Indonesian table, feed him fruits and vegetables for a few weeks, and nurse him through his withdrawals. He’ll kick and scream for a while but I have an idea, distract him! In the end he’ll thank you for that fact that you’re allowing him to see his late teens without both his lungs dissolving into a powdery ball of ash.....If none of this works, call me and I’ll take care of it; cause last time I checked, at my current body weight I can easily take an unruly nicotine addicted toddler down!
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