Researcher Pumps Tobacco Smoke Onto Child's Skin


Can Tobacco Smoke Heal?

"20/20" recently caught up with Sutiman and a few of his like-minded colleagues at a conference in Malang. Sutiman said his work is not supported by any tobacco companies, and that Western criticisms of tobacco are simplistic. He insists that giving patients antioxidants and anti-inflammatories can reduce the harmful effects of tobacco.

Sutiman's subjects, like young Satrio, are treated at a clinic near his lab, where his technicians infuse patients with the smoke from Divine Cigarettes, in the hope of treating them for a variety of ailments.

At the clinic, "20/20" met Satrio and also saw another patient -- a young man -- undergoing the hour-long treatment. He lay on a medical table as smoke was suctioned into his skin, including his scalp. Smoke was also blown in his ears.

The process doesn't cause pain, though it does expose the patient to the haze of the smoke-filled room for an hour, and treatment of questionable medical value, say critics.

Sutiman believes the smoke from the Divine Cigarettes can help treat a number of behavioral disorders, including ADHD -- the condition young Satrio was being treated for -- and some cases of autism. Sutiman admitted he doesn't know yet exactly how it can help autistic children, because as of now "we are doing that in the lab."

After Satrio's treatment, ABC News correspondent Dan Harris confronted Sutiman.

"Tobacco smoke we know causes cancer. Why would you cover a child in tobacco smoke to treat anything?" he asked.

"There is difference. The smoke is different," insisted Sutiman. "We try to understand the smoke with a different angleā€¦.We then try to understand how the elements of the smoke interact each other."

Indonesia's Minister of Health, a Harvard-educated public health expert named Dr. Endang Sedyaningsih, told "20/20" she is aware of the Divine Cigarette treatment, and is considering taking action.

"That practice can be stopped, because that, it's not healing and not proven, so right now we are trying to fight this kind of practice," said Endang.

"It's difficult, but we can come to this [clinic] and say that you cannot do that, and also give, information to the people in the village that this is not the way to cure a disease."

But for now, Sutiman continues his treatments, his public appearances, and his research at a state-run university. And 3-year-old Satrio continues his treatments, his parents ever-hopeful their son will be cured.

Watch the full story on "20/20" online.

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