Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - Page 2 News List

SMOKE-FREE TAIWAN: Smoking among the young decreasing, girls smoking more

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recent survey, conducted jointly by the Department of Health (DOH) and Ministry of Education, showed that the proportion of young smokers has recently decreased, but the proportion of young female smokers was on the rise.

The bi-annual survey sampled 27,853 high school students across the country last month. A total of 41.24 percent of respondents said they had smoked, a slight decrease from 43.61 percent in 2005.

Although the general proportion of young smokers has decreased, 9.12 percent of female students said they smoke, compared with 8.54 in 2005.

The new Tobacco Hazard Prevention and Control Act (菸害防制法), officially effective starting yesterday, aims to decrease the exposure of cigarettes to young people, DOH minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) said.

In addition to prohibiting smoking in public places, the Act also prohibits smoking on school campuses attended by students grade 12 and under, as well as any public outdoor venue frequented by children and teenagers, such as children’s amusement parks, playgrounds and zoos.

“Parents play a major role in preventing their children from smoking,” said Wu Fu-ping (吳福濱), vice chairman of the National Alliance of Parents Organization.

“It is important for parents to recognize the importance of smoke-free environments, and for us to bridge the gap between rural and city areas in promoting smoke-free environments,” Wu said.

A total of 35.22 percent of students who responded said they had been exposed to second-hand smoke in their schools. The majority of second-hand smoke came from other students, as well as campus visitors, teachers, principals, security guards and janitors.

However, many college professors smoke in their offices, and their students were afraid to say anything for fear of jeopardizing their grades.

“Teachers and professors should quit smoking,” said Yeh. “It doesn’t set a good example for their students.”

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