JAKARTA (AFP) - An eight-year-old Indonesian boy who smokes two packets of cigarettes a day has highlighted the government’s failure to regulate the tobacco industry, the country’s Child Protection Commission said Monday.
After food, cigarettes account for the second-largest household expenditure in the Southeast Asian country of 240 million people, nearly half of whom still live on less than two dollars a day.
But there is no minimum age for buying or smoking cigarettes.
“Ilham started smoking when he was four years old... his smoking habit grew day by day and now he can finish smoking two packs of cigarettes a day,” the boy’s father, a motorcycle taxi driver called Umar, was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara. The boy, who lives in a village in West Java provincial district of Sukabumi, would flare up in a rage and “smash glass windows or anything” if he was not given cigarettes, he added.
“He doesn’t want to go to school anymore. He spends his whole day smoking and playing.”
The government has increased excise taxes but prices remain extremely low by international standards, with a pack of 20 costing little more than a dollar.
Indonesia’s Child Protection Commission chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said the latest case further highlighted the government’s failure to regulate the industry.