Since the 1970s, Singapore's smoking prevalence has reduced from above 25% to below 14%. This means that about 360,000 Singaporeans smoke, with men being six times more likely to smoke than women.
Even though Singapore's smoking prevalence is among the lowest in the world, there should be no let up in the anti-smoking drive, said Minister of Health Khaw Boon Wan in a written reponse to a question by Dr Lam Pin Min, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, on the number of smokers in Singapore.
Mr Khaw notes that there is a significant racial difference: the smoking prevalence for Malays is more than double that of Chinese or Indians. Malay men aged 30 - 39 years have the highest smoking prevalence of 49%, as compared to 19% for Chinese and 12% for Indians.
The number of female smokers remains at single digit percentage, except for Malay females who form 14 per cent.
Current anti-smoking measures include keeping tobacco taxation high, banning smoking in public places, providing effective smoking cessation services and actively educating Singaporeans on the dangers of smoking.
"Behavioural change, unfortunately, is never easy. Smokers know that cigarettes are harmful but they still smoke," said Mr Khaw. "We will continue to step up targeted education programmes and try out more effective ways to reach out to them. We will also continue to support those who want to quit smoking."