Not feasible to ban sale of tobacco to S'poreans born after 2000

The proposal to ban the sale of cigarettes to Singaporean residents born from the year 2000 was first suggested in October 2010.

Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong said during Parliament on Monday that there are difficulties and risks in implementing and enforcing such a measure.

Mr Gan cited the following examples: "A person affected by the ban can circumvent it by getting a friend or relative unaffected by the ban to purchase tobacco products for them or buying the tobacco products while overseas, thereby rendering the intended control measure ineffective.

"It would be difficult to enforce against adults who provide tobacco to other adults who happen to be members of the targeted cohort. It would also appear unreasonable for one cohort to be prohibited from smoking while their slightly older peers are allowed to smoke.

"When these cohorts grow into adults, enforcing the ban would be even more challenging as age differences between cohorts would become less apparent physically. Studies have also shown that adults, be it parents, relatives or role models, who smoke will greatly influence the initiation of youth smoking. Unless smoking prevalence in both adults and youth are reduced to very low rates, it will be difficult to stem out smoking in the Year 2000 cohort totally."

Mr Gan said the Ministry of Health will continue to review its tobacco control programme to ensure that it remains targeted, dynamic and responsive to trends.

hteoh@sph.com.sg

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