I am a Smoke-Free Agent
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Singapore (Vocus) May 30, 2010
Fewer Secondary one to four youths in Singapore are lighting up. Latest statistics from the Students' Health Survey (SHS) 2009 signal a downward trend in youth smoking, with the proportion of youth who had ever tried smoking, including one or two puffs, declining from 26% in 2000 to 19% in 2006 and 16% last year.
The SHS, which surveyed about 3,000 Secondary one to four students in Singapore between July to November 2009, also recorded a decline in the percentage of youths who had smoked at least one day in the last 30 days from 9% in 2006 to 6% in 2009. 39% of youths however, still underestimated the addictive nature of smoking and believed that they could quit any time.
Whilst smoking prevalence has decreased, the intention to quit among those who smoked cut a worrying figure, as 58% of lower level students and 53% of upper level students who smoked revealed that they had no intention to quit smoking.
Key Influencers in Smoking Behaviour
Social influencers play a part in a youth's uptake of smoking, with statistics clearly indicating that youths who had either a parent, sibling or friend who smoked, were more likely to pick up the habit. More than 50% of smokers had at least one parent who smoked. Similarly, 38% of smokers had at least one sibling who smoked and 90% had at least one close friend who smoked.
National Smoking Control Campaign (NSCC) 2010
With more of our teens opting for a tobacco-free lifestyle, it is apt that this year's NSCC continues to celebrate the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle with the theme "Live it Up Without Lighting Up". The theme is a reinforcement of the benefits of staying tobacco-free, focusing on 4 areas – the benefits to one's appearance, fitness, spending power and the environment.
Several innovative programmes have been planned for the campaign. A key highlight is the novel Great Audio Experience, the first-of-its-kind in Singapore, held to commemorate World No Tobacco Day 2010. Starting from three locations along the Orchard shopping belt, youths and celebrity guests will don headphones, tune in to 987FM, and follow the instructions of "The Voice" to celebrate a tobacco-free lifestyle. They will descend upon Plaza Singapura in a moving flash mob style where the fun will continue with the "Live it up! Party" which will be launched by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. More information on the Great Audio Experience and Live it up! Party is attached in Annex A.
Said Mr Lam Pin Woon, CEO, Health Promotion Board (HPB), "Since 2006, we have increased our youth-targeted tobacco control programmes. More creative initiatives have been organised, new partnerships forged, and both traditional and new media have been engaged to curb tobacco use among the young. In the fight against tobacco, HPB cannot work alone. We have increasingly tapped on youth advocacy efforts and strengthened partnerships with family service centres and self-help groups to reach out to youth-at-risk."
Other highlights held in conjunction with NSCC 2010 include the "Live it Up" Ambush Squads and Facebook Pledge, Killa Balla Freestyle Soccer Carnival, "Live It Up" School Tours, Youth Against Tobacco Workshop and the Live It Up Game Development Challenge. More information on these initiatives is attached in Annex B.
School-based Initiatives to combat smoking among youths
HPB also partners the schools in year-long school-based programmes to reach out to youths with smoking prevention messages. These include the "I am a Smoke-Free Agent" Programme, and the "Too Tuff to Puff" Sports Programme.
Whilst HPB has stepped up its primary school programmes, it will be exploring additional programmes at the secondary school levels, especially as the SHS 2009 has shown that the age of smoking initiation has increased from 12 to 13 years. Said Ms Prema V, Deputy Director, Youth Health Programme Development 3, HPB: "Schools play an important role, whether or not they have students who smoke. HPB would like to partner with secondary schools to put in place more robust programmes so that we can together nurture youth to stay tobacco-free for life."
More details on HPB's smoking control strategies for youth and young adults is attached in Annex C for your information.
You and your photographer are cordially invited to attend The Great Audio Experience, held in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2010 for interview and photo opportunities with the smoke-free celebrities, ambassadors and youths.
Date: Saturday, 29 May 2010
Venue: 68, Orchard Road Plaza Singapura Singapore 238839
A media briefing will be conducted at 4.10pm at the VIP area to provide a better insight into the SHS findings as well as to address any queries.
Please contact Ms Wong Yoke Cheng at Tel: 64353543 or email wong_yoke_cheng(at)hpb(dot)gov(dot)sg by 27 May 2010, 5pm to confirm your attendance.