Role model Chang should snub tobacco sponsorship

Katherine Forestier (South China Morning Post, April 15) emphasises the lack of resources for the promotion of sporting activities in the young and describes how physical exercise comes low on the list of priorities for children here.

In the same issue we read how Michael Chang once again demonstrated superb skill and consistency in lifting the Hong Kong Open Tennis trophy.

He is to be congratulated as an exemplar of athletic prowess for all young people. Unfortunately his portrayal on page one, brandishing a Salem rosette along with a smile and the crystal pot, is a public health disaster.

Why is it necessary in Hong Kong for sports, the arts and other cultural activities, in which we want young people to participate, to be dependent on the revenue from tobacco, given that it destroys the health of those who use it? We do not need youthful idols to carry the tobacco industry's banner - only the industry needs that in a prescriptive plan to recruit the young to smoking.

Not only is Salem allowed to sponsor this event and benefit from all the kudos and exposure which comes with it, but it also gets full colour coverage on the front page of the Post. Cheap at any price.

If Michael Chang is really 'Keen to return to Hong Kong to promote tennis in the region', then I hope he will begin his crusade by condemning the use of tobacco sponsorship by sports organisations. If not, then I am sorry, but he should stay away.

ANTHONY J. HEDLEY Professor of Community Medicine The University of Hong Kong