After nearly two months in Hong Kong, Kevin, Nita, Rachel, and I are back in the United States. Over this period of time, we’ve gotten to experience so many new things, from navigating around the city on the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at the wet markets. We were also given the opportunity to attend nursing classes and collaborate with the smoking cessation research team at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard that we would be collaborating with a research team from the HKU School of Nursing. I was initially very nervous about the project because of my lack of experience with research – I didn’t want to be more of a burden to the team than a help. However, the entire team ended up being very supportive of our project, and they worked hard in ensuring that our course objectives were met. They proposed potential project ideas, and as mentioned earlier by my group members, we decided to focus on Hong Kong’s tobacco control and smoking cessation efforts. We saw this as a major public health issue because although only 11% of Hong Kong’s total population smokes, that is still nearly 770,000 out of 7 million people. In addition, because Hong Kong is so densely populated, it is nearly impossible for people to avoid secondhand smoke (SHS). We decided to focus on project on two aspects of smoking in Hong Kong: 1) SHS exposure during adolescence and its effects on current smoking behaviors and attitudes towards anti-smoking legislation and 2) the effectiveness of web-based resources that are currently being used to help smokers quit. Over the course of these 10 weeks, we took a closer look at HKU student experiences and perceptions of SHS and the use of websites as smoking cessation tools. Before we left, we presented our findings to the research team, who offered valuable feedback on our pilot observational study. The team commented on how the relationship between SHS exposure during adolescence and current attitudes about anti-smoking legislation was never really studied before, and we hope that this could be an area that could be explored more in future research. Had we had more time in Hong Kong, we could have used the data collected from our study to come up with interventions that we could evaluate by the end of our time here.
Along with helping us on our project, the research team also helped organize several site visits, including visits to the Tobacco Control Office Quitline Centre and the Hong Kong Council of Health and Smoking (COSH), which helped give us a better picture of what is being done to combat smoking in Hong Kong. During our last site visit to COSH, we heard about the various interventions being implemented to encourage smoking cessation, including broadcasting announcements for public interest (APIs) on TV and on the radio and providing community education through health talks. A method that I found interesting was the education theatre, which is an interactive show where students and teachers are invited to perform on stage along with the actors. Messages about tobacco control are delivered in a fun and creative manner, with the intent of helping youth better understand the hazards of smoking and the benefits of a smoke-free environment. I thought that this was a very useful way to target younger audiences and encourage them to develop healthy habits early on. I was thankful to see that Hong Kong was placing a huge emphasis on smoking cessation and that they were focusing their efforts on a smoke-free Hong Kong in the near future. Tobacco control is such a huge issue in Hong Kong, and I can see FPB nursing students playing a big part in it in the future.
|Visit to the HK Council of Smoking and Health|