Taiwan - video clips surface with parents giving cigarettes to young children..

Entertainer Chen Shu-li, a volunteer at the
John Tung Foundation, plays a video
featuring a child smoking a cigarette
during a press conference.

August 24, 2010 - John Tung Foundation, the leader in Taiwan's anti- smoking campaign.

The John Tung Foundation publicized 22 video clips at a press conference after exposing two similar home videos on Aug. 17 that circulated on YouTube. The videos
show that "forcing children to smoke is not an isolated incident" in Taiwan, foundation chief executive Yao Si-yuan said.

The adults in the videos are seen treating smoking children as a kind of performance at family gatherings, encouraging some children to hold a cigarette in their mouths to imitate older family members, the foundation said. One of the videos featured a two-to-three-month-old baby with a cigarette in its mouth. Another clip showed an adult forcibly remove a straw from a toddler's mouth and replace it with a cigarette.

At the press conference, actor-turned-volunteer Sun Yueh urged the government to take measures to prevent parents from encouraging children to smoke as a form of entertainment. “Parents should realize that they are responsible for their children’s welfare.” she said. “Parents should not find entertainment or happiness at the expense of their children’s health.”

Consumers' Foundation Vice Chairwoman Su Chin-hsia said that under the Children and Youth Welfare Act and the Tobacco Hazard Act, anyone who offers underage people cigarettes or encourages them to smoke is subject to a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$313) and NT$50,000 (US$1,560). Her foundation urged police to take legal action against the parents in the video clips.

The John Tung Foundation said people who start smoking before they are 15 years old are eight times more likely to get lung cancer

References: Activists urge punishment of parents who make children smoke, Chen Shun-hsieh and Elizabeth Hsu, Focus Taiwan News, 8/23/2010; Kids smoking equated with torture by Shelley Huang STAFF REPORTER, Taipei Times, 8/24/2010.

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