Smoking helpline marks 10th anniversary

MANY girls seeking help to stop smoking from the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU, 香港大學) Youth Quitline (青少年戒煙熱. ) were aged 13 or 14 when they first lit up.That shocking fact was revealed when Youth Quitline marked its 10th anniver-sary this year. Since its inception it has an-swered more than 7,000 calls from smokers under 25 wanting to kick the habit.

William Li Ho-cheung (李浩祥), the project director and HKU School of Nursing (護理學院) associate professor, said the hotline pro-vided smoking cessation counselling for 1,591 young smokers during the 10 years, and 23.6 percent managed to quit.

Girls started smoking slightly earlier than boys at an average age of 13.3. Most boys started at 14.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes a day and 62.5 percent had a mild level of nicotine de-pendence. Li said a majority (51.8 percent) of youngsters seeking help wanted to quit for health reasons. For 29.5 percent it was financial.Youth Quitline has trained more than 300 secondary and university students to become peer smoking cessation counsellors. The programmes nurture many young people by training them about smoking and dangers to health, Li added.

HKU Faculty of Medicine (醫學院) chair professor Lam Tai-hing (林大慶) said his hope is that social media can be utilised to a greater extent to raise awareness of the hotline and then reach young people and motivate them to quit smoking.

(The Standard, 22 April 2015)