Thursday, 15 May 2008 2:31 PM

Rise in Underage Smoking Cause Concern

The rise in underage smoking is causing concern. Solomon Times was at one of the popular 'hang out' spots in Rove for young people and made a startling discovery.

Young boys as young as 13 years of age were smoking cigarettes. Asked where they bought the cigarettes the young boys said "from the betel nut stalls."

When contacting the health department, one of the staff was adamant that it is illegal to sell cigarettes to underage smokers, although he admitted that "it is very difficult to monitor and enforce it."

Taking a walk through the park this morning Solomon Times caught up with some high school students taking their lunch break, a few smoking cigarettes. "We normally wear shirts beneath our school uniform...so we just take out the uniform whenever we have a cigarette."

Through persistent questioning the young boy told Solomon Times he was in grade 6. "I smoke because a lot of my friends smoke as well," he said.

Solomon Times understands that on the streets of Honiara there are a lot of small kids adopting the habit of smoking which is worrying.

While many would be quick to shift the blame, the fact that a lot of young people are smoking at such a young age is a concern. One betel nut vendor said that he is "not the boys' parent," and that he only "sees them as customers."