Summit to spread anti-tobacco message among youth

An initiative to create a tobacco-free generation of youth may be rolled out in primary and secondary schools as early as next year.

It will be part of the "Towards Tobacco-free Millennium Generation" campaign put together by around 50 individuals, including medical students, school teachers and a professor from the National Cancer Centre.

It aims to get students born in the year 2000 and later to pledge not to pick up smoking.

There are close to 7,000 smokers here who are between the ages 12 and 13, Associate Professor Koong Heng Nung, head of oncology at the National Cancer Centre, said yesterday at a media briefing.

"We are trying to focus on this group, and the dream is to reduce this number to zero," said Prof Koong, who is the director of the campaign.

The campaign also hopes to create a ripple effect in which the students are motivated to spread the anti-tobacco message on their own.

To do so, the campaign team has invited more than 350 primary and secondary schools to take part in a youth summit next week.

The team has not fixed the programme, giving the schools the autonomy to implement their own initiatives to encourage their students not to use tobacco products.

"We want to keep reinforcing the tobacco-free message to this generation of students," said Ms Eileen Soon, 22, the co-chairman of the summit and a third-year medical student at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

"We hope to empower the students with the right knowledge, instead of using the usual talk-down approach," she said.

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