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Marlboro Boys: Canadian photojournalist captures pictures of Indonesian boys as young as 4-years-old smoking
India is the second biggest consumer of tobacco in the world with almost 275 million smokers. However, on the brighter side, the number of smokers has been gradually declining with the sales dropping down to 88.1 billion sticks by the end of 2015, the lowest in 15 years, as per a study by Euromonitor.

While there is rising awareness in India over the adverse effects that cigarettes have on health, there are countries like Indonesia which still manage to eke out as sanctuaries for smokers, especially the younger ones. Being the fifth largest tobacco market in the world, there are over 57 million smokers in Indonesia.


Almost 70 per cent of the Indonesia's population, including 63 per cent men and 5 per cent women are smokers. What's worse, more than 30 per cent of Indonesian children light up a cigarette before the age of 10. More than 40 per cent of boys between the age group of 10-15 years are regular smokers, most of whom having had their first cigarette before the age of 4.


What's worrying for the government is that smoking is not considered a taboo in Indonesia, but rather looked upon as a `deep-rooted part of Indonesian culture'. Just like in India people smoke `beedi', often labeled as poor man's cigarette, in Indonesia almost 88 per cent smokers depend upon locally made cigarettes called kreteks, made by a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavours, for deluging their nicotine cravings. 


In 2010, tobacco smoking as a perpetual global problem reared its ugly head, staring straight into the eyes of the so far ignorant world health community, after pictures of two-year-old Sumatran boy, Ardi Rizal made global headlines. The boy at that time had developed a habit of smoking 40 cigarettes a day. 


Recently, Canadian photojournalist Michelle Siu clicked photos of Indonesian boys smoking and cataloging them into her album which she has named `Marlboro Boys'. These images are a stark reminder of the sheer proliferation into enormity of this menacing habit, engulfing children as young as 4-years-old who are now smoking almost two packs of cigarettes a day. While some pictures portray the innocence of these young smokers, a few show them imitating their elders, who have been smoking for many years now.


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