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May 14, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Kids' crusade on cigarettes tamped down

PUPILS and secondary school students can no longer work as anti-smoking volunteers to deter adults from smoking in the street.

Citing safety concerns, education authorities issued a notice yesterday banning local primary and secondary schools from organizing minors for the volunteer job.

Since the city's first tobacco control law took effect on March 1, a lot of schools have had their students working as anti-smoking volunteers in their spare time.

"We expect students to gain social experience from the activities," said Wu Ruilian, principal of Qibao Foreign Language Primary School in Minhang District.

A group of 40 students from the school went out on the street to discourage smokers on weekends and holidays and on summer and winter breaks, with some parents guarding from the side.

The campaign achieved some effects as lots of adults were willing to listen to the health advice from the kids, according to Wu.

"Smokers won't feel very hostile to kids," said Geng Yuhua, a parent leader whose fifth-grader daughter is on the volunteer team.

Geng said the kids usually began by saying: "The nicotine in a cigarette can poison several rats. Please don't smoke for the good of your and others' health."

She said many smokers were amused by the kids' talk.

However, some smokers scoffed at the minors and even argued with them, teachers and parents said.

Last Friday at People's Square, one man grew very angry with the children and grumbled that they violated his rights. Geng took the children away after an ineffective talk.

"He was very excited and I was afraid that he would hurt the children," Geng said.

Schools were advised to carry out less risky forms of anti-smoking activities, such as class meetings.

Many parents liked the change.

Brady Wu, a father of a kindergarten kid, said, "Minors should be protected instead of working in the front line to tackle the problems that adults even found a headache."

The kid volunteer team in Qibao now plans to lecture residents in communities about the law and their rights to stop smokers, instead of directly confronting smokers.


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