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Snapshots of Hot Issues

12 Mar 2012, 2.15PM
Between 25 Nov and 31 Dec 2011, National Environment Agency (NEA) with the support of the Health Promotion Board (HPB) conducted an e-poll, as part of their public consultation on extending the list of smoke-free places to enhance the protection of public from second hand smoke. 

This topic was hotly debated on REACH, with the e-poll receiving a record of more than 8,000 inputs! REACH contributors also shared their views on the REACH Discussion Forum and Facebook, which received over 300 comments. 

We bring to you the key talking points from REACH contributors.

Extend Smoking Restrictions 
Majority of our contributors are supportive of extending the smoke-free areas, with many sharing personal experiences of breathing in second-hand smoke in public walkways, corridors and spaces and calling for the extension of restrictions to these places. 

Some express their grievances over smoking neighbours at homes and suggest that the extension includes HDB flats as well. They also observed that popular locations like hawker centres are also hotspot for smokers. They feel that it is ridiculous to designate a smoking area in food establishments, right next to non-smoking seats, as this affects the dining experience.

Nevertheless, some contributors have shared the difficulties they faced in finding a convenient location to smoke, noting that there are already many non-smoking places in public.They also point out that many smokers are aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke to others and do make the effort to be considerate to others. However, their efforts to do so are hindered by the lack of public space that permits smoking. 

Provide Alternative Facilities for Smokers?
Some contributors suggest that instead of extending smoking prohibition, an alternative approach is to designate smoker-friendly facilities for smokers while ensuring that others are protected from the second-hand smoke.

Beyond Extension and towards Enforcement
Contributors who are against second-hand smoke note that NEA should look beyond simply extension and place more officers to enforce the law. They observe that many smokers flout the rules openly in popular locations and go unpunished.

Impose Stricter Fines and Taxes for Smokers and Cigarette-Sellers
While there are those who advocate for a total smoking ban in Singapore, they acknowledge the difficulties of such a step. Other suggestions include imposing heftier fines on smokers caught flouting the smoke-free restrictions, reducing the sales of cigarettes in stores, increasing the tax on cigarettes and increasing the licensing fees for cigarette retailers. 

We thank you for your invaluable feedback and suggestions! 


Update:

As of 7 Mar 2012, the Ministry of Environmental and Water Resources (MEWR) announced that smoking restrictions will be extended to include corridors, void decks and staircases within residential buildings, sheltered walkways and overhead bridges and outdoor hospital compounds in the coming year. There will also be clearer demarcation of smoking and non-smoking areas.

You may click here to read the reply given by MEWR in Parliament.



Selected Contributor Quotes from REACH’s Platforms:

“For the current situation, even though the government has implemented the smoking zone in hawker and etc. they SHOULD ENFORCE it before actually expanding the ban area. It is a common sight where people are smoking in a non smoking area in a coffee shop and not once do I see any one of them being fined by any law enforcement officer.”
- Guest, Discussion Forum 

“I would hope the Authorities could really look into giving the smokers a reasonable zone to smoke, not anyhow draw a smoking zone that would take a 10-mins walk for the smokers to smoke. Most mature smokers are reasonable and willing to comply to the by-laws if certain consideration was given to us. In other words, restricting smokers from smoking for all over the place doesn’t work. It will only cause some smokers to take risk and smoke at some blind corners or do a cat and mouse race with the authority.” 
- Guest, Discussion Forum

“Make the smokers pay more monetary through taxes and more taxes, then use these money from the smokers to subsidise more to the NON smokers medical bills.”
- Guest, Discussion Forum

“That is the real question ! Where is NEA??? No where to be found. No enforcement officers, no signage and no one care. That is the real reason why smoking problems are every where.” 
- Guest, Discussion Forum

“I think there should be serious consideration about banning smoking while walking. I always see a great deal of people who smoke while walk, making all the people around them becoming second hand smokers. In addition, as they walk and smoke, they may pass by all the smoke free areas, making banning smoking ineffective at these areas.”
- Guest, Discussion Forum 

“Smoking is addictive, expensive & bad for health including those who choke by second-hand smoke. Keep Private when smoking in well ventilated place.”
- Ronn Gazing Hawk, Facebook

“the only way to escape this smoking business is to petition our government to banned ciggarettes all together…so many campaigns and awareness created year after year, with so much energy and effort (not to mention money) used for this sole purpose and yet not much changes…”
- Siti Nor’aini Abdul Samat, Facebook


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