Indonesian media initially reported on the recent tragic death of a nine-year-old boy with stories suggesting that he died due to the shock of an extremely loud sound system being used at a neighbor’s celebration. But it seems the boy may have been the victim of something far more insidious — Indonesia’s deadly permissiveness towards cigarettes and underage smoking.

The boy, identified by his initials KI, lived in the Karangrejo Village of Garum in the Blitar Regency of East Java. He was found yesterday afternoon, lying on the ground directly in front of the sound system being used at a neighbor’s event. After residents saw him lying lifeless on the ground, he was taken into a neighbor’s home and police were called. Medical responders declared him dead at the scene.

“From the external post-mortem results, the victim is suspected of having a heart attack and it is possible he had internal illnesses,” Garum Police Chief Rusmin told Detik today.

Initial news reports had suggested that KI had a heart attack due to the shock of being in front  of the sound system when it suddenly started up. However, Police Chief Rusmin said their investigation had revealed another possible reason for his sudden death.

“I was shocked when his family told me that the victim was an acute smoker. Once he started smoking he could immediately go through one pack,” Rusmin said.

The police chief said that KI’s father and older sister were known to have mental disabilities and did not work while his mother spent most of her day laboring to make money for the family. Rusmin added that KI was known to hit his mother if she didn’t give him money for cigarettes.

We’ll never know how much smoking contributed to KI’s death as his family chose not to have his body autopsied before burial. His family also agreed that his death was an accident and that they would not take any action against their neighbors.

According to data released by Indonesia’s Health ministry last year, the number of smokers aged 10-18 has actually increased to 9.1% from 7.2% in 2013, which would put the number of underage smokers at over 40 million.

One study in 2016 found thataround 30% of all Indonesian children have smoked a cigarette before the age of 10 (one of those, unfortunately, beingIndonesia’s infamous smoking baby).


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