Children's book to create awareness on smoking
Raffles Institution student Jonathan Au Eong was only 11 when he conducted a survey among 80 pupils in Nanyang Primary for a Primary 5 school project in 2011.
It was to assess their awareness of smoking-related conditions.
He found out while almost all of them were aware that smoking was harmful to health, only four in 10 knew that smoking also caused blindness.
To the boy, now 16, this number was too low. He had learnt from his ophthalmologist father Au Eong Kah Guan that smoking causes cataract and age-related macular degeneration.
He also found out, while researching for the project, that smoking among young Singaporeans, aged 18 to 29 years old, rose from 12.3 per cent in 2004 to 16.3 per cent in 2010. The numbers rose to 16 per cent in 2014.
Bothered by that fact, Jonathan decided to write a children's book to raise awareness among his peers and younger kids.
"I buckled down and started writing when I was 13. It didn't take long to finish the story but I needed to have illustrations and also for my father to edit and check the facts," he said.
In his book called When Daddy's Vision Becomes "Smoky", Jonathan highlighted some of the lesser known smoking-related conditions through a story about a boy and his father.
The illustrations were done by a professional artist because he can't draw, said Jonathan.
"I hope the kids reading this book will be aware of the dangers of picking (up) that first cigarette," he told The New Paper.
Jonathan also wanted children who read the book to play an active role in helping family members who smoke to quit by telling them the story.
"Parents who read the book to younger kids might also realise smoking can cost them their eyesight and perhaps would be encouraged to stop too," he added.
When Daddy's Vision Becomes "Smoky" will be available at $16.05 at the pharmacy in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and major bookstores from today.