EDUCATION on the harmful effects of smoking will commence in earnest when schools receive the first comprehensive teaching package on the subject early next year. The Hong Kong Council On Smoking and Health (COSH) is designing a video and accompanying resource material for schools. When implemented, it should reinforce the Government's new anti-smoking measures. The new legislation makes it illegal for tobacco products to be sold to anyone under 18, or distributed to the same age group during promotions. 'The most vulnerable age group to take up smoking is that below 14. Statistics show if people do not pick up the habit before 19, the chance of them smoking later in life is greatly reduced,' said Angeline Oyang Ying-lan, COSH's executive director. The organisation has targeted its education kit at Primary Six, Form One and Form Two students. The 40-minute video, produced by Radio Television Hong Kong's education unit and tailor-made to be a self-contained class lesson, educates through a drama set against a local school setting. 'Primary students overseas usually have about two hours of school education on smoking each year. We hope the Education Department will require schools to spend at least one to two classes every year on how smoking affects health,' Ms Oyang said. Principal Leung Ngan-kwan of SKH Leung Kwai Yee Secondary School said: 'Young people are led to believe that smoking represents machismo. Children who have smoking parents are also more inclined to follow suit. Most teenagers know the bad effects of smoking, but they yield to the habit because of peer pressure.' A 15-year-old boy who smokes about a packet of Marlboro a day told Young Post: 'Over 90 per cent of my classmates smoke. I don't believe the new laws can stop us. If tobacco merchants don't sell cigarettes to us, who do they sell them to? Most of those who smoke are people our age.' A Form Four student who has smoked for three years said: 'We always get our cigarettes from those above 18 anyway, what's the difference?' COSH commissioned a survey of more than 6,000 Form One to Form Three students aged between 12 and 14 between May and July this year. The survey, conducted by the University of Hong Kong's Department of Community Medicine and Behavioural Science, found that six per cent of the children surveyed smoked. Further conclusions on the smoking habits and attitudes of that age group are expected by December.