Two-year-old Aldi yanks on his mother's hair and squirms in her arms. Tears formed a small pool in the folds of his double chin. "He's crying because he wants a cigarette," said Diana, his mother。
A video of him plopped on a brightly-colored toy truck inhaling deeply and happily blowing smoke rings has circulated on the Internet, turning him into a local celebrity. Aldi is nearly twice the weight of other babies his age (20 kilograms or 44 pounds)。
Mulyadi asked for help from the Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection. Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the commission, told Diana that she needed to find other things to occupy the boy's time。
"Smoking has been a part of our culture for so long it isn't perceived as being hazardous, causing illness or poisonous," said Mulyadi. "A lot of adults who are around children smoke. They carry a baby in one hand and a cigarette in the other. "
But he said what was disturbing was that the parents' motivation to get Aldi to quit wasn't stemming primarily from an understanding of the risk to his health, but more from the cost of spending four dollars a day -- Aldi smokes an average of 40 cigarettes daily。
There is a scar on Aldi's head, where he smashed his head into a wall during one of his tantrums. He also vomits when he can't satisfy his addiction. "I smoked when I was pregnant, but after I gave birth I quit," Diana said. "We went to the market and then suddenly he had a cigarette in his hand. Even when he was a baby and he would smell smoke he would be happy."
A study by the child protection commission shows that between 2001 and 2007, the number of children smoking between the ages of five and nine jumped 400 percent. That does not take into account children like Aldi, who are under the age of five. Mulyadi believes the number is significantly higher and child smokers are getting younger。
"We are fighting to remind the country that we really need to protect our children," Mulyadi said。