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Chinese toddler seen smoking in street

Outrage has ensued across social media platforms after a video of the shocking incident appeared

Footage has emerged of a toddler in China smoking a cigarette - as onlookers laugh and encourage him.

The video has sparked outrage after it went viral, with questions being raised as to why no one stepped in to stop the little boy puffing away.

The child, who is believed to be about two or three, sits on a chair in front of a low table in what appears to be a courtyard of sorts.

He holds the cigarette in his left hand, taking drags from it in a manner that is disturbingly adept.

A number of passers-by witness the shocking scene but no one intervenes to stop the little boy, instead expressing amusement.

And apart from a few grimaces, the toddler appears relatively at ease.

 A backlash occurred on social media following the appearance of the video, as users condemned the irresponsibility of the adults observing the child's actions.

On Twitter, @himzzy786 said: "Age 3? How sickening. Where are the parents or guardian of this child. Poor baby."

And @SNewts7 said it was "absolutely shocking", while @LeeJohntoby tweeted: "It's a crazy world".

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco and also has the highest number of smoking-related deaths in the world.

Last month the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report urging the country to place graphic warnings on cigarette packets, as in the UK.

It is thought that if the rate of smoking is not reduced, it could cause three million deaths a year in China by 2030.