Do more to prevent teens from smoking

I agree with Dr Patrick Liew Siow Gian that more can be done to promote anti-smoking, especially among young people ("Ramp up efforts to make smoking 'uncool'"; March 17).

Research has found that most smokers start the habit in their teens. Their adolescent bodies are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction. Many will try to quit but fail, and will smoke well into their adult lives.

The key is to nip the problem in the bud. It is easier to prevent a habit than to try and kick an established one. Hence, more efforts should be put into prevention rather than cure.

One way is to enlist the help of popular local artists, sportsmen and sportswomen. As they have a large fan base, especially among teenagers, they can be highly effective no-smoking ambassadors.

They could be invited to primary and secondary schools to interact with students and spread the no-smoking message.

Former smokers who have successfully kicked the habit can also volunteer to share their struggles and experiences.

A website can also be set up where students can sign an online pledge to be nicotine and tobacco-free. The website can also be used to run creative writing, poster or T-shirt design competitions to actively engage youngsters.

Hopefully, with a sustained effort in spreading the no-smoking message among young people, Singapore will have a higher chance of becoming a smoke-free nation.

Gwendolyn Heng Chin Wuen