Health | Local youth call for stricter anti-smoking regulations

Local youngsters are calling on the government to consider banning smoking in some streets and to have designated smoking places, particularly in tourist areas.

Recently, the Health Bureau (SSM) met with some 50 youngsters to hold a talk on tobacco control as part of the bureau’s preventive activities to deter adolescents from taking up  smoking.

According to a statement issued by the SSM, most of the participants expressed concern that people are still smoking in the waiting lines at bus stops and on the streets, calling on the government to consider prohibiting smoking in some streets and to just have designated smoking places.

Some participants gave examples of areas where smoking should be prohibited, such as the tourist areas including Ruins of St. Paul and Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, amongst others.

Regarding education in the maltreatment of tobacco for adolescents, some said the promotion of the harmful effects of tobacco for young people is not as effective because they are not worried about the harm that tobacco does to their health.

The participants believed that raising tobacco taxes, increasing fines and strengthening law enforcement for young smokers serve as more effective deterrents.

However, the participants also said that it is necessary to solve the problem of illegal entry of cigarettes before tax increases.

Some participants also suggested that the bureau’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Office conducts a statistical analysis of the “black spots” most frequented by young people, where they smoke the most, and where there are more inspections.

The general tobacco consumption among young people in Macau and between the ages of 13 and 15 was 6.1% in 2015, while the rate of use of electronic cigarettes was 2.6%, almost similar to the cigarette consumption rate of 2.7%.

At the meeting, the director of the bureau, Dr Lei Chin Ion reported that most smokers experienced their first cigarette when they were underage.

According to the SSM, it is necessary for the bureau to strengthen prevention education against the harmful effects of tobacco among young people.

Lei hopes that young people can continue to support tobacco control work and provide further feedback, pledging that the bureau will work on revising the Tobacco Control Act in the future, based on their opinions.

The participants, aged between 16 and 35, were from the Macau Medical Staff Volunteers Association, Macau New Chinese Youth Association, Smoke-free & Healthy Life Association of Macau and Macau Youth Anti- Smoking Association. LV

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