Singapore Cancer Society to target the young, as part of World No Tobacco Day campaign

Chinese pupils wearing masks with no smoking signs to support World No Tobacco Day at a primary school in Handan, Hebei province, on May 30, 2016.
Chinese pupils wearing masks with no smoking signs to support World No Tobacco Day at a primary school in Handan, Hebei province, on May 30, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - With the aim to build a smoke-free nation where everyone can lead a healthy lifestyle, the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) has made a concerted effort to coincide its outreach efforts with the World No Tobacco Day for the first time.

The World No Tobacco Day falls on Tuesday (May 31) and the society sent out a media release on the day to announce its theme for the campaign, which is: "This World No Tobacco Day is an open invitation for you to live smoke-free."

It said that it will be focusing its efforts on the young and the community.

Said an SCS spokesman: "Leveraging the creativity and drive of youth, the aim is to create a smoke-free environment through ownership and peer learning.

"This is a break from the traditional 'teach and learn' environment, with youth who work together with SCS now having the opportunity of owning this challenge and coming out with creative ways to build a smoke-free environment."

Even before the campaign, the society has been reaching out to the public through continual youth and community engagement efforts rather than one-off events.

They have already worked with more than 1,000 secondary school students from the National Cadet Corps and Girl Guides Singapore, where students undergo a programme conducted by SCS on the harmful effects of smoking. Subsequently, the students will plan and execute a smoke-free educational programme in school and organise their own projects.

Additionally, the society has reached out to students from Temasek Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic, where students had to conceptualise and plan a smoke-free campaign as part of their coursework.

For community engagement, it has collaborated with the Foochow Coffee Restaurant & Bar Merchants Association Singapore and Kheng Kheng Keow Coffee Merchants Restaurant & Bar-Owners Association. The society's posters are put up at designated smoking areas in coffee shops and bars to encourage patrons who smoke to live a smoke-free life.

According to the World No Tobacco Day information paper from the National Registry of Disease Office in 2015, tobacco kills approximately 2,500 smokers and 250 non-smokers in Singapore each year.

The Singapore Cancer Registry annual registry report also shows that lung cancer is among the leading cancers in Singapore today.

royannen@sph.com.sg