The Bureau of Health Promotion in Taiwan announced the results of Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2011 yesterday, which showed that higher the amount of pocket money given by parents, higher the smoking rate among teenagers. Among more than 40,000 participants, 7.3% junior high students and 14.7% senior high students indicated they smoked or attempted to smoke in the past 30 days. Those who spent NT$800 (US$27) per month for cigarettes constituted 30% of teenager smokers.
The senior researcher Tzung-Yee Feng (馮宗蟻 研究員) at Health Education Center in the Bureau of Health Promotion said that last year survey added had a new question revealing the relation between smoking behavior and allowance. It found that the smoking rate of teenagers without allowance was 4%, in contrast to those given allowance of NT$3,500 (US$119) to NT$4,499 (US$153) was 20% and those who given over NT$4,500 (US$153) was as high as 30%, strongly suggested that allowance and smoking rate were correlated.
The survey found that among smoking students, 17% junior high students and 33% senior high students spent more than NT$800 (US$27) per month. The senior researcher Tzung-Yee Feng pointed out, despite efforts to restrict youth access to tobacco products, they continued to be able to obtain them at the stores.
According to Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, shops selling tobacco products to minors will be fined between NT$10,000 (US$339) and NT$50,000 (US$1,694) and teenagers who were reported as violators will receive a three-hour lesson of tobacco control education. If the legal guardians of the violators fail to make these teenagers attend class, they will be fined between NT$2,000 (US$68) and NT$10,000 (US$339).
The survey also found that the place for the first cigarette teenagers smoke was home, contrary to the general belief that public place was most common. If a member of the family is a smoker, the odds teenagers to smoke are higher, indicating that importance of family in teenagers’ smoking behavior.
Nevertheless, parents believed otherwise. They thought the main reason teenagers start smoking was peer pressure and out of curiosity. The survey results of the Bureau of Health Promotion did not support their view. A parent surnamed Wang from Taipei City said, the reason teenagers start smoking is because of their peers and not related to the size of their allowance.