If you’ve ever browsed social media platforms, you might recall a famous video featuring a young child smoking, one of the early viral sensations on the internet. This child was Aldi Suganda, also known as Aldi Rizal and gained global recognition as the “Smoking Baby of Indonesia.” Disturbing video of the young child confidently smoking cigarettes quickly spread across YouTube and served as an emblem of the tobacco crisis in a nation often referred to as a haven for tobacco producers.
At present, the boy is 13 years of age and resides in the village of Teluk Kemang Sungai Lilin in South Sumatra, where he is surrounded by fields and plantations. Despite his troubled history that preceded him, he has experienced a transformation that few children will ever encounter.
According to a report by CNN, today, Aldi is a healthy young boy who attends school and gets good grades, but to get here, it took years of rehabilitation with the country’s leading child psychologist, Dr Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the nation’s National Commission for Child Protection. His road also didn’t end with his tobacco cravings. Soon after his recovery, he replaced tobacco with food and began to overeat as a means of compensation, eventually becoming obese. But a second bout of rehabilitation to tackle this overeating created the healthy, stable young boy sitting beside his mother today.
Dr Mulyadi believes the one benefit of working with children who have an addiction is their mental agility. In Aldi’s case, his age and intelligence meant he responded quickly to his treatment, in which Mulyadi distracted the boy with running, climbing and playing while slowly reducing the number of cigarettes he smoked each day. But treatment was intense and required Aldi to go to Jakarta for a few months to be with Mulyadi every day.
But smoking in the early years of life is a massive problem in Indonesia. According to a report by Penn Medicine, Indonesia is at the epicentre of the global tobacco use crisis, where more than 267,000 children are estimated to use tobacco products every day.
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