Kids Encouraged To Smoke
The Epiphany celebrations in the Portuguese village of Vale de Salgueiro feature a tradition that each year causes an outcry among outsiders: Parents encouraging their children, some as young as 5, to smoke cigarettes.
Locals say the practice is centuries-old, but nobody is sure what it symbolizes or why parents buy the packs of cigarettes for their children and encourage them to take part.
The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving kids smokes, and Portuguese authorities don’t intervene to stop the practice.
Guilhermina Mateus, a 35-year-old coffee shop owner, cites custom as the reason why she gives her daughter cigarettes.
Mateus says “I don’t see any harm in that because they don’t really smoke, they inhale and immediately exhale.”