Do you know the boy that smoked 40 cigarettes a day? He has changed a lot over the last 8 years…
This small boy inhaling a cigarette while holding his legs on the steering wheel of his car seems a very accurate parody of middle-aged truck drivers. Unfortunately the photograph is not a parody and the truth behind this story is much more uneasy. The cigarette that you can see in the boy’s hand isn't a toy, it isn't a chocolate candy, nor it is an imitation. It’s a genuine cigarette and yes, this child is smoking it!
Ardi Rizal is a boy that was born in a small village on the Philippines and for a long time he was addicted to smoking. He became famous in 2010 when his addiction shocked the whole world as he could smoke 40 cigarettes a day.
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He got his first cigarette from his father when he was 18 months old. Neither him nor nobody else could predict the problems he and his family would have to face in order to help Ardi in quitting his addiction.
When mass media discovered this subject, the boy became an object of interest of many associations related to child protection. The government got also interested in Ardi. Suddenly, a huge social problem of that part of the world came to light. It was not treated seriously before. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cases of minors smoking on the Philippines and this isn't an isolated incident.
According to Central Statistical Agency, 25% of children of 3-15 years old have tried smoking, out of which 3.2% are active smokers. Ardi’s example is an extreme case that shows a general social problem.
It took many years and a lot of efforts of his mother (and the government, who promised to buy a car for the family if Ardi stopped smoking), but finally Ardi became free of his bad smoking habit. However it did not happen without consequences.
As time passed by, Ardi was able to beat his habit, however he couldn’t get rid of addictions in general. The boy went from one addiction to another which was as dangerous as the previous one - junk food. Ardi took therapy sessions in order to liberate his mind of the necessity of smoking 40 cigarettes a day or eating too much, so he was able to live like a normal boy.
During his rehabilitation, therapists suggested his mother to keep Ardi busy with different activities and games to keep his mind away from the idea of smoking and eating.
“A lot of people offer Ardi cigarettes, but the boy says no”, his mother said. “Ardi says that he loves his therapist and he would be very sad if he started to smoke and harm himself again”.
Thankfully, Ardi has proved to be a strong-willed boy. He was also able to beat the compulsive necessity to eat junk food with time. Now he's free of cigarettes, he eats healthy food and the results are clearly visible on the below photograph. He's happier and healthier than ever.