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University of Hong Kong introduces Whatsapp service to help young smokers quit

University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong has expanded its popular Youth Quitline hotline service to help young smokers kick the habit by introducing a Whatsapp counselling service on Tuesday.

Since the introduction of the hotline in 2005, one in five of the more than 1,200 smokers under the age 25 who sought help via the service have successfully quit smoking, according to HKU’s data.

Another 46 per cent of the youths made attempts to quit.

The top reason for quitting smoking among all service users was to improve their health, with 55 per cent choosing this as their primary motivation.

“The health effects are not just seen when you reach old age. Many young smokers find that their sports performance are affected,” said Lam Tai-hing, chair professor at the university’s School of Public Health.

The second reason, cited by 30 per cent of those who used the services, was to save money.

A HK$300 cash prize will be given to those who successfully quit smoking under the programme.

In 2012, 10.7 per cent of all the people aged 15 and above in Hong Kong are daily cigarette smokers, a decrease from the 11.1 per cent reported in 2010, according to the latest Census and Statistics Department survey.

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