An Indonesian toddler who ended up with 40-a-day habit after picking up cigarette butts on the street is trying to stop smoking, his mother claims.
Rapi Ananda Pamungkas whipped the internet into a frenzy when video footage of him chain-smoking by his mother’s market stall in Sukabumi, West Java, went viral earlier this month.
After the local government stepped in to help, the two-year-old has now begun cutting down, but still puffs on used ends when his mother is not looking.
Young addict: Rapi Ananda Pamungkas, pictured before the government stepped in to help him quit, still puffs on used ends when his mother isn’t looking
His mother, Maryati, 35, says Rapi is now playing with his toys again, after first crying and begging for cigarettes when he was cut off.
Earlier this month she was seen lighting cigarettes for her young son, and confessed to buying him two packs per day to stop him from throwing a tantrum.
‘Rapi has stopped smoking now and plays more with his toys. I am very happy.
‘The health department told me it can’t go on, but how can I change what he likes?
‘When I’m working he walks alone and finds them on the street.’
Caved in: Rapi’s mother Maryati, seen lighting his cigarette, says she ended up buying the toddler two packs per day to stop him from throwing tantrums
Rapi ended up smoking two packs a day after becoming addicted by collecting used butts outside his mums stall in Sukabumi, Indonesia
Health risks: Mrs Ananda Pamungkas, a mother-of-six, says her toddler son had suffered from a fever and ‘gone hot and cold’ recently, which had not happened before
Mrs Ananda Pamungkas, a mother-of-six, said Rapi was spoiled and had become used to getting what he wanted by crying and throwing tantrums.
‘It started because he was taking cigarettes butts from the road, he said they are delicious.
‘It was getting to a point where he was crying, begging for cigarettes, otherwise he would rampage, cry and pull his hair.’
The mother admitted he has not had a health check since he began smoking, but he has been suffering from some concerning symptoms.
She added: ‘The other day, he got a fever and his body was going hot and cold. That’s never happened before.’
And as the family bows to public pressure to help the toddler kick his habit, experts have revealed the harrowing reality of the damage that could be done.
After the local government stepped in to help, the two-year-old has now begun cutting down and his mother, seen left, says he is now playing with toys again
Dangerous: Experts warn the toddler could become brain damaged if he doesn’t stop smoking
Colin Mendelsohn, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales’ School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Sydney, Australia said Rapi faces a host of health hazards if he keeps it up.
Prof. Mendelsohn, 66, said: ‘Animal studies have shown nicotine damages the developing brain.
‘It can lead to permanent problems with brain functioning, emotional development, and other cognitive functions.
‘All the other symptoms – heart disease, lung disease, cancer – will kick in at a much earlier age.
‘What’s more, the younger kids start, the more dependent they become, so he will become addicted to that and primed for other addictions as well.’
Indonesia has one of the highest numbers of smokers per population in the world and a growing problem of child smokers. Around nine per cent of under 18s smoke regularly.