Smoking: The Rate And Causes Of Smoking In Indonesia

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As Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, cigarettes are an extremely popular product in Indonesia including among children. It’s not uncommon to see primary school children smoking cigarettes especially in rural areas (Wibawa, 2019). In Indonesia, children can buy a single cigarette from road-side kiosks freely. According to Astuti & Freeman (2018), a fifth of Indonesians between 13 and 15 years old smoke, the highest rate in the region. The price of cigarettes in Indonesia is very affordable even for the poor. The cheap cigarette prices and weak smoking regulation are reasons why Indonesian boys smoke more than others in the Southeast Asia region (Astuti & Freeman, 2018).

Indonesian Rapi Ananda Pamungkas, a toddler from Cibadak-Sukabumi, is one of evidence that Indonesia is facing a growing problem of child smokers. He is only a two-year-old boy and has already picked up a disturbing adult habit and now chain-smokes through 40 cigarettes a day (Usher, 2018). Rapi begins to become addicted to cigarettes after he picked up used cigarette butts off the floor. The older boys from the road would lighten the cigarettes up for him. He also copied the behaviour of adult smokers around him. He became dependent on cigarettes and pesters passers-by for cigarettes and his parents who run a kiosk (food stall) which also sells cigarettes.

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The Parents Role

Rapi’s parents cannot say no to him when he asks for cigarettes. It is almost impossible to stop Rapi since he is becoming aggressive and throwing tantrums when he couldn’t get to smoke. If Rapi can’t smoke, he won’t stop crying all day and won’t be able to sleep. Rapi’s mother, Maryati, said, that her son has been smoking every day for around two months. If she doesn’t give him a cigarette, he goes berserk. She confessed that she buys two packs of cigarettes a day for the boy to keep him happy. Even as Rapi’s father, Misbahudin also said he cannot ban his son. He added that he only smoke at work and doesn’t even smoke as often as his son. Both Maryati and Misbahudin said they could not stop the addiction because their son will rampage and cry. However, the fact revealed that Rapi’s addiction to cigarette was unwittingly influenced by his father’s smoking habit. The fact that his mother owns a kiosk that sells cigarettes also support the environment for Rapi to smoke.

The Effect of Smoking

Children who smoke have risks of getting various kinds of health problems because smoking can damage the human body system and lead to long-term health problems. The health problems caused by smoking such as stroke, heart disease, lung disease, ulcers, gum disease, eye disease, pneumonia and many types of cancer — including lung, throat, stomach, and bladder cancer.

To help Rapi stop his smoking addiction and save him from serious health effect, his father decided to quit smoking. His father also asked people to not smoke around Rapi’s house. Another stimulus in the form of toys was also given to Rapi to stop his smoking habit.

Other Similar Case

Rapi was not the only toddler smoking that appears in international headlines. In 2010, a Youtube video about Ardi Rizal from south Sumatra also shocked health experts in the country. He reportedly smoked 40 cigarettes a day. However, according to a Daily Mail report in 2018, now nine-year-old Ardi has stopped smoking with the Indonesian government’s help, (Huiwen, 2018).

Saving Indonesian Future Generation

To save Indonesia’s future generation, educating young people about the harmful effect of smoking can be a solution. Furthermore, the government must support the environment by limiting young children’s access to cigarettes. Firstly, the government can raise tobacco excise and make cigarettes more expensive to reduce consumption. Secondly, the government must put in force the existing bans on selling tobacco to minors and moreover, the government should impose a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.


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