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8-Year-Old Chain Smoker Sent to Rehab

The Indonesian tot acts "like he's possessed by evil spirits" when he can't smoke.

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25% of Indonesian children smoke before
age 15. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

03/20/12

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An Indonesian boy has been admitted to rehab for smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day. The eight-year-old has been smoking cigarettes habitually for four years, and plans to spend at least a month in the treatment facility. The boy’s addiction had reached “alert level” as he was said to be smoking around 25 cigarettes a day and needed emergency help. “You can see a dramatic change of behavior when he doesn't have a cigarette for a while. He becomes emotionally aggressive and uncontrollable. He acts like he's possessed by evil spirits," says Indonesia's Child Protection Commission chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Indonesia has the world’s highest percentage of child smokers, with 25% of children trying cigarettes between three and 15 years old. Agan Umar, the boy’s father, hopes his son can curb his addiction and experience a normal childhood. "I hope the therapy works so my son can go back to school and live a normal life like the other kids," he says. "We'll give him a medical check-up to examine the impact his smoking has had on his health, and he'll be given psycho-social therapy to divert his attention from smoking to playing.” Other than increasing excise taxes, the Indonesian government has taken minimal steps to regulate tobacco use. However, cigarette prices remain relatively low, at just over a dollar for a 20 pack.

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