In the summer of 2010, a viral video featuring a 2-year-old who would become known as the “smoking baby” hit the internet. The original news story featured a toddler named Aldi, who lived in a small village on Indonesia and quickly became infamous. The attention surround Aldi’s two-pack-a-day habit amused some and alarmed many more, inspiring Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel to leave the US and investigate Big Tobacco’s influence on developing countries.
While filming the upcoming Vanguard episode “Sex, Lies & Cigarettes,” Putzel finds that Big Tobacco’s influence hasn’t disappeared just because it has become so heavily regulated in the U.S. Instead, it’s simply moved to poorer countries, where laws restricting marketing to youth generally don’t exist.
Watch this dispatch from Putzel’s research in the field:
In the island of Sumatra, Christof drives through jungles into a small village to find Aldi. Getting to know Aldi and how he became a smoker helps him realize that there is more to learn from the story of a “smoking baby.”
Unlike the many other young smokers in Indonesia, Aldi’s story was viewed — and commented on — by millions.
Though cigarette companies claim that they don’t market specifically to children, at a busy intersection in Jakarta, Putzel points out a tobacco billboard that features a young skateboarder.
While dining with his fixer, Putzel accepts a dare to eat some of the spiciest chili peppers in Balambang City.
So what are the exact benefits that the governments of small countries like Indonesia get when allowing companies like Phillip Morris to advertise so aggressively? What other countries are being targeted by Big Tobacco?
Watch “Vanguard” to find out what Christof uncovers about the battle behind Big Tobacco. Tune in Monday, June 27, at 9/8c to see the premiere of “Sex, Lies & Cigarettes.”