Jakarta (ANTARA) - Toddlers who are exposed to cigarette smoke have a 5.5 percent chance of experiencing stunting, according to Maria Endang Rusmiwi, Director General of Public Health at the Health Ministry.

During the 2023 World No Tobacco Day press conference held here on Monday, she stated that a research study conducted by the University of Indonesia in 2018 found that toddlers who live with smoking parents weigh 1.5 kilograms less than those who grow up in smoke-free households.

She added that there are currently 70.2 million Indonesian adults who smoke, with 65.5 percent of them being men.

"This means that one-third of toddlers in Indonesia have the potential to be exposed to cigarettes, resulting in lower body weight compared to children from non-smoking families," she said.

Rusmiwi then appealed to men, particularly fathers, to contribute to the stunting reduction program by redirecting their spending from cigarettes to protein-rich food for their families.

According to her, cigarettes are currently the second-largest household expense in Indonesia.

Based on data provided by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), households in Indonesia spend an average of Rp382,000 (around US$25.5) per month on cigarettes.

She suggested evaluating the household financial structure based on priority and redirecting funds spent on cigarettes to the purchase of animal proteins to support children's growth and development.

She highlighted that the stunting rate in Indonesia is still relatively high, exceeding the World Health Organization's threshold of a maximum of 20 percent of the population.

"Indonesia's current rate is 21 percent. With 30 percent of children under five potentially exposed to smoking at home, reducing stunting becomes even more challenging," she said.

This effort aligns with the theme of the 2023 World No Tobacco Day — “We Need Food, Not Cigarettes,” she added.

She emphasized that the observance of No Tobacco Day also presents an opportunity for fathers to contribute to lowering the national stunting rate.

"Instead of buying cigarettes, it's better to use the money to buy eggs, chicken meat, and other nutritious foods," she added.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Resinta S
Editor: Anton Santoso
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