The time has come, and for a long time already, for us to fight back against companies that sell cigarettes, and especially to children.
A major weapon in our war of liberation from cigarettes is “lawfare”, which means that we must sue the enemy at every opportunity, This weapon is now extending itself to use in countries like Indonesia. China, VietNam, Thailand, and other Far Eastern countries have higher percentages of smokers than do we, and it is therefore urgent and useful for us to attack there as well. This is now happening.
Child addicts at heart of Indonesia anti-smoking suit
KARAWANG GIRANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – Anti-tobacco advocates in Indonesia plan to file a class action lawsuit this month using cases of child addicts in the hope of forcing tougher regulations on a society where one in three people smokes.
It is a rare attempt of its kind to constrain a tobacco industry which looks to the world’s fourth most populous country and its growing appetite for cigarettes to replace dwindling sales elsewhere.
The suit against tobacco companies and the Indonesian government argues that feeble regulation has left children dangerously exposed to the risks of smoking.
“There are … kids who have fallen victim to the impact of cigarette companies and smoking. They are addicted. In the context of people’s rights, the society has been disadvantaged by the tobacco industry,” head of the National Commission for Child Protection, Arist Merdeka Sirait, said.
Indonesia is something of a paradise for both smokers and tobacco companies, with the world’s fifth largest population of smokers. It is a widely tolerated habit and one which even in this relatively poor archipelago most can afford to feed.
And it is getting more popular as the economy grows.
Sometimes I get mad, and reading this article was one of those times! In fact it made me VERY mad to read about this little child, an addict of smoking since the age of FOUR. If you read about his health, about his black teeth, anbout how his freiends see him as a broken down child who is unable to play ball anymore, while the Indonesian fat cats in their ofices at the cigarette compaies are enoying all the money they make off kids like this one – how can you become anything BUT mad? It is not every day that you see something as ugly as this bit of exploiting a child for money is.
Ilham Hadi has become something of a poster child for the anti-smoking campaign.
He began smoking aged four when his mother Nenah said she gave him 3,000 rupiah ($0.32) to buy snacks at school. He bought a cigarette instead.
The addiction has since blackened his teeth, damaged his skin and, his friends say, made the now nine-year old a useless soccer player and slow, wheezy runner.
“He sometimes bangs on the window at 4 a.m. in the morning to buy a cigarette,” said Iin Indriyani, who runs a tiny store from the front room of her home around 100 yards (meters) up a winding path from the two-room house where Hadi’s family lives.
“Whenever he wants a cigarette he looks like he is in a trance,” she told Reuters, saying that he sometimes hit her and her daughters to demand cigarettes.
Hadi smokes two packs a day, adding to the financial stress on his parents given that his father earns only $5-6 per day as a laborer and part-time motor bike taxi driver.
“If there is no money left at home, nothing to sell anymore, he would go to the grocery shop, get money by helping park cars and come back home with cigarettes, sometimes a pack, sometimes two and expensive brands too,” said his father Umar.
His habit has also brought the family unwanted celebrity as media crews troop to their house on a hillside beside a rice paddy in the village of Karawang Girang around 40 miles south of the capital.
The child protection commission paid for Hadi to be treated in March and he quit, but last week he ran away from home – not for the first time – in search of cigarettes and has not been seen since.
His case has triggered a debate among the village’s 344 residents about smoking and an attempt by the head of the village to make Karawang Girang a smoke-free zone, said Husein, a local government health worker. Read more about children addicted to smoking.
My reaction to this story was in my guts; the kid’s reaction was in his lungs. Where was yours, reader? We all have to get tough and sometimes pretty emotional about these topics, and I would like a little support and knowing whether or not I stand aone on this subject.