Forum: Tackle misinformation about smoking among youth

People walking along Orchard Road on June 19, 2020.
People walking along Orchard Road on June 19, 2020.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The new regulations standardising tobacco product packaging are a step in the right direction (Tobacco product packaging to be standardised from July 1, June 30).

This policy is in line with the Government's multi-pronged approach to dissuade non-smokers from picking up smoking.

In 2017, the average age of smokers who started smoking daily was 18. So it is imperative that policies be specifically tailored to this demographic.

Graphic health warnings have been plastered on tobacco packaging for so long that smokers and non-smokers alike have likely become desensitised to the images, defeating their purpose.

The element of curiosity among young people looking to experience something new may also contribute to them picking up the habit.

I contend that the best way to stop the consumption of tobacco products is to directly address the root cause of the issue - misinformation.

Educating youth directly is the most effective long-term solution to this problem. By integrating anti-smoking campaigns and talks that shed light on the hefty costs smoking can bring to one's health, bank balance and familial relations into the school curriculum, students will have no choice but to be exposed to these material consequences from an early age.

Sonali Bhat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2020, with the headline 'Tackle misinformation about smoking among youth'. Print Edition | Subscribe