When images of 2-year-old Sumatran boy, Aldi Rizal, surfaced the world was shocked - he had a cigarette in his hand and was puffing away while riding his tricycle.
Considered a novelty in his local community, his family never discouraged him after he had his first cigarette at just 18 months.
In a short time his habit peaked to smoking two packs a day.
International attention lead to a public outcry, and the Indonesian government stepped in and said Aldi has to give up the smokes.
He was taken into rehab where he was weaned off of his cigarette habit and allowed to be a toddler for the first time.
In the 7 years since, Aldi has managed to stay clean of smokes. His mother, Diane, says that his rehabilitation doctor - Dr Kak Seto - regularly checks in on the family and has been a positive influence on young Aldi.
‘There are many people still offering Aldi cigarettes, but Aldi no. He says "I love Kak Seto. He would be sad if I started smoking again and made myself ill,’ she explains.
Attempts to make Aldi quit when he was younger would lead to temper tantrums that scared his family and they always gave in:
'He would bang his head on the wall if he couldn't get what he wanted. That's why I get him cigarettes in the first place - because of his temper and his crying.’
But like a lot of people trying to give up smokes, his appetite has surged.
'Now I don't give him cigarettes, but he eats a lot. With so many people living in the house it's hard to stop him from getting food.'
Doctors think that it’s the smokes themselves that could mean Aldi will battle weight problems his whole life.
‘Nicotine can increase the endocrine hormone in the body. This condition can cause resistance to insulin,’ explains pediatrician Dr William Nawawi.
'The blood will not be able to break glucose from food. This will make Aldi become bigger and bigger.'
Aldi has since become the poster-child for tackling childhood smoking in Indonesia - where it is through that at least a third of children under 10 years old have tried cigarettes.
This article originally appeared on that’s life!
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