Ban on smoking in more areas from January

SINGAPORE - The smoking ban will be extended to cover more areas in January next year.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) had originally planned to roll out the extension by year-end. It is still working out details, it said in reply to a query from Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, had said in March that the NEA is expanding the ban to cover areas in residential estates such as common corridors, void decks and sheltered walkways.

Smoking will also be prohibited at outdoor hospital compounds, overhead bridges and within a 5m radius of bus stops.

The agency conducted an online survey late last year where 89 per cent of 8,000 respondents indicated that more public places should be smoke-free.

Some 85 per cent also said that areas within residential buildings should be smoke-free.

About 85 to 90 per cent of the smoke from every cigarette ends up in the air as second-hand smoke. Exposure to it can cause lung cancer and lead to pneumonia and bronchitis in children.

Reports put the number of smokers in Singapore at about 14 per cent of the population.

An NEA spokesman said the ban extension will further protect the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in public areas.

"In collaboration with the Health Promotion Board, NEA aims to work towards a future where Singaporeans consider smoking not only detrimental to health, but also socially unacceptable," he added.

Mr Jose Raymond, executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, said the extension means that more enforcement officers will be needed on the ground, which may stretch resources.

He thus emphasised the importance of community engagement and individual responsibility.

It is the long-term goal of the ministry to prohibit smoking in all public places, except designated areas.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said the move is timely as residents have been concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke for some time now.

"Young families, in particular, have approached me with their concerns. There have also been a lot of cases where quarrels occur because of smoking along corridors," she added.

The NEA said more details about the extension will be provided closer to the date.

melodyz@sph.com.sg


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