2-year-old child smokes 40 cigarettes a day, needs a puff to fall asleep
News of this 2-year-old child addicted to smoking is shocking. "My child is used to smoking while drinking coffee and eating cake", says his mum...
He smokes around 40 cigarettes a day, and needs to take a puff before going to sleep. If his parents refuse to give in to his demands, he throws a tantrum until they finally agree.
He is only two years old. Meet RAP, chain-smoking toddler and the grim face of Indonesia’s tobacco epidemic.
“My child is used to smoking while drinking coffee and eating cake. If I don’t give him a cigarette, my child goes berserk,” says his mum.
2-Year-Old Child Addicted to Smoking Raises Concerns
It’s been only a month and a half since RAP (identified by his initials) picked up this dangerous habit. Apparently, he got hooked on smoking after picking up cigarette butts off the street.
“It started with picking up cigarette butts and now he’s smoking,” says his mum Maryati.
The boy’s parents are now planning to send him to rehabilitation. Quite surprisingly, his father Misbahudin is only an occasional smoker.
“I don’t even smoke that often. I only smoke at work. When he (RAP) smokes it has to be with a cup of mochaccino,” he says.
This is not the first time that a child addicted to smoking has grabbed international attention.
In 2010, two-year-old Aldi Rizal from Indonesia hit headlines when just like RAP, he was found to smoke as many as 40 cigarettes a day.
Thankfully, his story had a happy ending and today, after years of rehabilitation, Aldi has successfully quit smoking. “I am happy now. I feel more enthusiastic, and my body is feeling fresh,” he was recently quoted as saying.
Aldi regrets those days,”I don’t want to smoke anymore. I don’t want to get sick. Please don’t smoke. Don’t even try it. It’s hard to quit.”
To many people, the idea of a child addicted to smoking may seem ridiculous and a result of bad parenting. But the news is far from surprising in a country like Indonesia, which has one of the world’s biggest smoking populations.
According to the WHO, about 200,000 Indonesians die due to smoking-related diseases each year. Indonesia also has the highest percentage of male smokers in the world, and has one of the highest rates of adolescent and child smokers. The problem is mainly due to peer influence, low prices and lack of control over advertising.
Child Addicted to Smoking: Signs and Dangers
Children usually get drawn to smoking because of peer influence and exposure to smokers. Sometimes, they just want to look cool, act older or seem tough, like they do in the movies.
Before they know it though, it becomes a habit that is often difficult to get rid of. And that’s because cigarettes contain nicotine – one of the most addictive substances in the world.
Some immediate effects seen in a child addicted to smoking are:
- Bad breath
- Yellow teeth
- Smelly clothes
- Skin looks unhealthy and grey
- More colds and coughs
- Difficulty keeping up with friends when playing sports
Long-term effects of smoking are:
- Smokers are ten times more likely to get heart disease, lung disease, and have a major heart attack or stroke.
- People who smoke have an increased risk of infection to diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Tobacco and other chemicals irritate the throat, cause bad breath, and damage the airways, causing the well-known “smoker’s cough.”
- They also increase heart rate and raise blood pressure, which can harm athletic performance.
- Nicotine can have long-term and harmful effects on a child or teenager’s brain.
Young smokers are more likely to experiment with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or other drugs. They may also experience mood disorders in adulthood.
Preventing Kids from Smoking
Parents have a huge part to play when it comes to educating kids about smoking and being role models themselves.
- Research shows that children who have a parent who smokes are more likely to smoke and to be heavier smokers at young ages.
Also, when parents quit smoking, their children become less likely to start smoking and are more likely to quit if they already smoke.
- By maintaining a smoke-free home, parents can communicate that smoking is a habit to avoid.
- Encourage kids to get involved in activities that prohibit smoking, such as sports.
- Educate your kids on how smoking impacts your health. Emphasise that smoking causes many immediate or near-term effects on health, including persistent coughs, respiratory problems, a greater susceptibility to illness, and decreased physical performance.
- Stress that contrary to what you see in ads, there is nothing remotely attractive about smoking. Yellow teeth, bad breath, smelly clothes, and wrinkled skin don’t make you look cool at all.
- Pay attention to your kids’ friends, and be an active participant in your child’s life. This will reduce the risk of your child being involved in risky behaviour, such as smoking, alcohol and other drug use, early sexual activity etc.