Artists launch T-shirts telling smokers to keep their distance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 June, 2009, 12:00am

Illustrator Montagut Chuen now appreciates karma. Years ago when she was a smoker, Chuen lit up at a canteen and a woman near her moved to a seat further away. Shooting her a dirty look, Chuen thought that was a rude and overly dramatic gesture. These days, as a nasopharynx cancer survivor, Chuen (pictured) can't even stand to inhale second-hand smoke.

'The cancer treatment made me lose my nose hair, so when I inhale smoke, it makes my nasal fluids run uncontrollably and sometimes it even turns into a severe nose bleed,' Chuen said. 'One time, I was trying to tell a smoker about my condition and he gave me the exact same look I gave that woman.'

That's why Chuen, along with local artists Telephone Fung, Siu Hak and Yeung Hok-tak, has joined skincare brand Kiehl's to create seven special T-shirts for the Can I Have Some Fresh Air, Please? campaign. Launched on Thursday at the APM mall, sales of Kiehl's T-shirts will aid the Children's Cancer Foundation.

As campaign director, Chuen now knows first-hand the dangers of second-hand smoke. 'I smoked for seven years and at the peak, I consumed three packs a day,' she recalled, adding she only quit when diagnosed with cancer about five years ago. 'These days, I've tried to cover my mouth and nose, even holding my breath, but I learned that even when someone walking by is smoking, you can't avoid breathing in his second-hand smoke. This is why I created this T-shirt. The statement on the shirt is pretty clear.'