Indonesia unfortunately has another “smoking baby” making headlines, but at least this latest incident has led to the arrest of the person allegedly responsible for putting a cigarette in the infant’s mouth: his own father.
Recently, a photo went viral showing a baby with a lit cigarette in his mouth, with the arm of an adult holding him up. The photo was first posted on one of the parent’s Facebook pages, which then led to the police identifying the baby as a 9-month-old, identified by his the initials AI, who is the the child of 36-year-old M and his wife, 18-year-old U from a village in Bangkalan regency, East Java.
The local police have arrested M, who admitted that he was smoking in the room when he decided to put the lit cigarette in his infant son’s mouth and have the photo taken.
“We have secured the father for putting the cigarette in the infant’s mouth, even if the baby is his own child,” said Bangkalan Police Spokesman Bidarudin, as quoted by Tribun yesterday.
What’s more astounding is that, according to the police, the father actually did put some thought into safety while exposing his child to the noxious carcinogenic smoke.
“The child had the lit cigarette in his mouth. The culprit sat the child up, and he also held the child up by the arms because he was worried that [the baby] would get burned by cigarette ash,” Bidarudin said.
Police said AI’s mother was aware of the incident, given that she was the one who took the photo. However, the police have not arrested her for reasons not yet known.
Under Indonesian law, there is no specific punishment for giving cigarettes to children, but M could be charged with violating the Child Protection Act and face up to 6 months’ imprisonment under the law.
Indonesia is unfortunately known for having some of the highest smoking rates in the world, with government statistics showing that nearly one-third of the population are active tobacco users, which includes an alarmingly high number of child smokers. Aldi Rizal, the infamous smoking baby of Indonesia who was known to smoke as many as 40 cigarettes a day at the age of 2, became the poster child for the problem of child smokers in Indonesia back in 2010 (he has since supposedly kicked the habit). Amidst the international outcry and embarrassment over his case, the government promised to pass more measures to stop children from getting addicted to tobacco.
But it is clear that lawmakers still aren’t doing nearly enough to prevent young people from picking up the deadly habit, as their own latest statistics show that the number of smokers under 18 in Indonesia rose in 2016 to 8.8%, up from 7.2% in 2014.