It’s perfectly acceptable for anyone to believe even the dumbest of hoaxes related to COVID-19, as long as they keep the stupid to themselves and not spread it to anyone else, least of all small children.
Recently, a video has gone viral in Indonesia showing a family smoking “herbal” cigarettes indoors. A man, who appears to be the one filming, can be heard saying to the camera: “In order to resist the coronavirus, we, as a family, are smoking. Hopefully, if Allah wills it, COVID-19 will be blocked.”
Among the smokers were two young boys — one of whom looks to be as young as five — who were each holding and puffing on their own cigarettes. A woman, with a cigarette in hand, is seen cradling an even smaller child on her lap while she smoked.
Herbal cigarettes, locally known as rokok sin, are widely available in Indonesia. The producer of one herbal cigarette product that we viewed on an e-commerce platform claims that each stick comprises betel leaves and honey, among other herbal materials, and that prayer is whispered onto it when rolled.
Herbal cigarettes can apparently cure all sorts of ailments, such as those of the cardiovascular variety, and, ironically, lung diseases.
One health expert called bull on the family’s claim that herbal cigarettes, or any cigarettes, can build up one’s resistance against COVID-19.
“Smokers are actually more at risk of getting infected or have respiratory problems.”
It’s not clear where the video was taken. The Ministry for Women Empowerment and Child Protection tweeted on Saturday lambasting the “irresponsible parenting” shown in the video and appealed to people to help identify the family. There have been no notable updates on the ministry’s investigation since.