Recently there have been many stories about a baby in Indonesia who chain smokes cigarettes every day. Reportedly his father started him smoking because the baby was suffering from a hernia, but was too young to have surgery. Smoking cigarettes was started as a form of pain relief. Nicotine is addictive, and the baby is now addicted. He now throws tantrums if he doesn’t get his daily dose of cigarettes, media outlets have been reporting. Sources have alleged the baby was actually allowed to start smoking at the age of 18 months.
To many people, allowing such a young child to smoke (even introducing the baby to cigarettes) is very shocking. In Indonesia though, tobacco control regulations reportedly are weak, and the tobacco industry is strong. Advertising campaigns there are allowed to encourage the very young to smoke. A story from the Irish Examiner stated the government there receives billions of dollars each year in revenues from tobacco sales.
Indonesian Child Protection Commission chairman Hadi Supeno said, “There are many children under five years of age who have started smoking. A decade ago, the average age of beginner smokers was 19, but a recent study found that the average is seven.”
Such an extreme situation is instantly recognized by anyone as very unhealthy for a baby, or any child. However, many children around the world are also exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. Some parents smoke around their children, and the children inhale cigarette smoke from breathing the air. Lung cancer and heart health problems have been linked to secondhand smoke exposure.
Even if parents smoke outside, children still absorb some of the nicotine, said a research study about smoking and exposure. From a summary of the study, “Even if cigarettes are not smoked near a baby, cigarette fumes may contaminate dust that settles in carpets, on toy and furniture surfaces and on the floor. These objects can remain contaminated for several months!”
Some key facts about secondhand smoke exposure:
“Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. ”
“Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.”
“Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 deaths from lung cancer and 22,700 to 69,600 deaths from heart disease each year.”
The facts above are from the American Lung Association website.
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