SINGAPORE - A new anti-smoking programme is being piloted this year which by 2017 will be introduced in all mainstream secondary schools.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) announced its "No To Tobacco" education programme on Saturday which will be made up of nine classroom sessions held over two years. These will discuss the reasons that many youngsters take up cigarettes, such as peer pressure, stress and anger, and suggest better ways to manage these feelings.
The Board said it is part of its two-pronged approach to cut tobacco use, which involves educating students about its dangers and strengthening infrastructure to provide more support for smokers to kick the habit.
Ms Vasuki Utravathy, the HPB's deputy director of substance abuse, said yesterday: "The key lesson is for students to role-play how they can say no to tobacco products. That is shown worldwide to be one of the key points that should be inculcated in youth."
A National Health Survey in 2010 found that 75 per cent of smokers in Singapore picked up the habit before they were 21.
However, National Health Surveillance Survey 2013 found that smoking prevalence among 18- to 29-year-olds fell from around 17 per cent in 2007 to 13 per cent last year.
About 13 per cent of Singaporeans aged between 18 and 69 are smokers, and the HPB is looking to reduce this by another percentage point in the next five years.
To achieve this, it will hold 60 road shows over the next six months, up from 20 over less than six months last year.
Smokers who visit will be able to seek help on how to quit through avenues such as counselling. They can also sign up for the HPB's I Quit 28-Day Countdown programme, which aims to get 10,000 pledges to quit smoking this year - almost three times as many as last year.
The number of smoking cessation touchpoints - such as retail pharmacies and health-care institutes where smokers can go to seek help - will also be increased from 150 to 600 by 2020.
This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.