GRACE FU: GOVT INTENDS TO BAN SMOKING IN SINGAPORE EVENTUALLY

Smoking could be banned in more locations in the near future if a consultation held on Saturday (Apr 18) between the Government and some stakeholders is any indication.

Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu said the Government is mulling over its “next steps” even as it eventually moves toward a smoke-free Singapore. However, she said policies must be balanced between smoking’s impact on non-smokers and accommodating the needs of smokers.

Besides most indoor public areas, the smoking ban was extended in 2013 to include void decks, covered walkways and a five-metre radius of bus stops.

Last year, Nee Soon South constituency piloted smoke-free zones, where smokers were urged to light up in six designated areas only.

The smoking points have also led to less littering.

The Singapore Management University (SMU) was one of more than 20 stakeholders at Saturday’s consultation session which included non-governmental organisations, healthcare professionals, and current and former smokers.

Many are advocates of designated smoking points although some suggested these should also be enclosed.

“We had suggestions of people putting up partitions – not just a line, because the smoke will just encroach into other areas,” said Peter Ong, a smoker and vice chairman of the Tai Seng Gardens Neighbourhood Committee.

Others have proposed banning smoking for those born after year 2000.

Dr Koong Heng Nung, senior consultant surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said: “Smoking cessation programmes’ success rates have never been high. Even my patients diagnosed with lung cancer find it a challenge to stop smoking.

“The idea here is to restrict the use of tobacco for a certain birth year onwards – phasing it in because we’re not restricting current smokers. It does not disenfranchise current smokers, and yet we’re setting a new social norm to a new generation of smokers.”

The Government’s policy so far has been to point out where the public cannot smoke. But views aired confirmed this could create confusion among smokers and non-smokers alike.

The Government is now deciding if it should focus on regulations that state where people can smoke.

Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu speaking to more than 20 stakeholders at a consultation session on April 18, 2015.

Ms Fu said: “First of all, there need to be rules – clear rules so that people understand where certain behaviour is allowed and where smoking is not allowed.

“And for many of the responsible smokers, those will be very helpful. They would like to abide by the rules and they would like to know what is the right thing to do. If they do not have clear rules, they can’t do the right thing. Just having clear signs, designations, that would be helpful.”

Ms Fu said enforcement also needs to be kept up on the minority who flout the rules.

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