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Staying Young (14 Jul 2004)


Despite the unceasing anti-smoking education and publicity targeting the minors, smoking prevalence among young people is on the rise, contrasting with the declining trend in the overall number of smokers in Hong Kong. What has gone wrong? Campaigners believe that the adolescents have been subject to the influence of pop culture, which favours smoking.Anti-smoking activities held by primary and secondary schools or civic organisations are no longer limited to the dissemination of health information. Instead, emphasis is placed on building positive values among the young people. However, as a teacher points out, no matter how effective school education is, parental and communal supports are vital in suppressing juvenile smoking.In the programme, several young girls explain why did they start smoking and how do they feel about their habit. After all, peer pressure makes the youngsters susceptible to cigarette. The girls say that smoking is only one of their bad habits. They do not want to be labelled ‘ bad girls ’ merely because they smoke. Another boy called Ah Keung has successfully quitted smoking with the help of a counselling centre referred by his school principal. Ah Keung believes his principal has chosen an effective method to help him instead of punishing him straightaway.Recently, a survey shows that 50% of young respondents accept an idol who smokes. Some students reportedly smoke their heartthrobs ’ favourite brand of cigarette. Pop stars think that while the community can demand the media or the singers to practise self-monitoring, education should be strengthened to help the youngsters distinguish what is right and what is not.Anti-smoking activists argue that most of the tobacco control initiatives are concerned with publicity. Little resources are left for counselling service for young people. They believe the imbalanced development is a result of insufficient strategic planning and lack of grassroots participation.

Smoke Free Planet
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
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