THE anti-smoking lobby has accused a tobacco company of encouraging young people to smoke by advertising free movies in exchange for empty cigarette packets. The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) said the full-page Kent advertisement, which has appeared in Chinese-language newspapers for the past few days, was clearly aimed at young professionals and teenagers. COSH chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong said: ''Two of the three films are for family viewing and so the target market is obviously young people. ''Tobacco companies deny encouraging young people to smoke but I think actions speak louder than words in this case.'' COSH plans to write to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, manufacturers of the Kent brand British American Tobacco, and film distributors and cinemas involved to protest against the promotion. But British American Tobacco denied the advertisement was aimed at young people. The company's public affairs manager Peter Kuk Kwok-yung said: ''We have made it clear in all our publicity material that the offer is only open to adult smokers. ''We have never encouraged young people to smoke and we have told the cinemas' management that all those who appear to be under 18 must not be allowed to take advantage of the offer.'' But COSH claimed there would be very little to stop a young person from acquiring the movie tickets, while Mr Kuk admitted that a watertight method of enforcing the law had not yet been worked out. One of the three movies will be screened at 90 cinemas throughout the territory at midnight on tonight. Latest figures show that although only 15.7 per cent of Hong Kongers smoke, the habit has been taken up by more than 21 per cent of 16-year-old males. COSH said it recently heard of a seven-year-old boy who smoked regularly. Dr Leung added: ''Although the number of adult smokers in Hong Kong is falling, we believe the number of young smokers is on the increase.'' COSH said other tobacco advertisements which had used pop stars, concerts and fashion to promote tobacco products were also aimed at a young market. New legislation which comes into force on January 1 will tighten up the law regarding the size and wording of the government health warning on packets. But Dr Leung said: ''Legislation is still needed to stop tobacco companies using youth orientated products and activities to promote their products and so helping to increase the number of young smokers.'' A government spokesman said anti-smoking policy reflected the community's view. Public consultation last year found no strong feeling regarding promotional activities of the tobacco industry.