1,200 hauled up for flouting smoking ban

1,200 hauled up for flouting smoking ban
Smokers seen outside Chinatown MRT on Tuesday. Some 14.3 per cent of adults in Singapore smoke, up from 12.6 per cent in 2004 – a figure which the Health Promotion Board hopes to cut to below 10 per cent by 2020.

Over five months from April to August, nearly 1,200 summonses have been issued to smokers caught lighting up in areas that have recently been put on the Government's "no smoking" list.

That works out to eight tickets a day, despite a national effort to warn smokers. Most of those hauled up for flouting the new prohibitions were caught smoking at covered walkways, common areas of residential buildings and pedestrian overhead bridges.

A ban on smoking in these areas and also within 5m of bus shelters and the outdoor areas of hospital compounds came into effect on Jan 15 this year.

For the first three months after the change, offenders were only given warnings. The National Environment Agency (NEA) revealed that it issued almost 4,000 advisories in that period.

Volunteers also conducted over 950 community patrols to advise smokers and residents in their estates on the new prohibitions, said an NEA spokesman.

She added that posters have been put up at shops, such as Cheers and 7-Eleven, where cigarette sales are higher. NEA also launched an online campaign targeting youth to raise awareness of the new smoke-free areas.

Yet smokers puffing at these recently banned places still made up over a quarter of the 4,299 tickets issued this year until Aug 31.

Overall, that makes it about 537 summonses every month, a nearly 60 per cent rise on last year's monthly average of 340. In 2011, when 4,870 summonses were issued, the monthly average was 406. Offenders can be fined up to $1,000.

MP Lee Bee Wah, whose Nee Soon South ward is set to become Singapore's first smoke-free district by the end of this year, said: "I think NEA is doing a good job of nabbing offenders. But it is an uphill task as the enforcement officers can't be everywhere.

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