To fight smoking, keep teenagers away
Tobacco control activists and experts said the key to curbing smoking is to keep adolescents away from tobacco and e-cigarettes, as more than half of Chinese smokers develop the habit before the age of 20.
In an important period of physical and psychological development, teenagers with strong curiosity are not fully aware of the chronic hazards caused by smoking, said Liao Wenke, deputy head of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.
Once people develop a smoking habit in their adolescence, they are more likely to become lifetime smokers, said Liao.
According to a World Health Organization report, smokers' average lifespan is 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers.
The harm tobacco does to the youth is even worse. Adolescents are physically immature and thus more vulnerable to toxic substances, tobacco control experts warned, adding smoking can adversely affect the development of their skeleton, and nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.
Tobacco and most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, said Li Yong from the Cancer Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, adding nicotine itself is not carcinogenic but it may induce tumors.