Smoking data doesn't square with tobacco figures

Smoking data doesn't square with tobacco figures
People smoking along the walkway at Clementi MRT station.

In 2011, the Health Promotion Board set the target of reducing the smoking rate in Singapore to 10 per cent of the population by 2020.

Thus, I am disappointed that it has now relaxed its target to 12 per cent (" 'No To Tobacco' programme for schools"; last Sunday).

While the smoking rate among adults has apparently stabilised, from 13.6 per cent in 2007 to 13.3 per cent last year, alongside a significant drop in smoking prevalence among those aged 18 to 29, there was oddly a rise in tobacco duty revenue - $889.1 million in 2010, $967.4 million in 2011, $969.2 million in 2012, and $1.042 billion last year, all before the tobacco duty hike this year.

Also, Singapore Customs seized 2.9 million packs of contraband cigarettes last year - almost double the 1.5 million packs confiscated in 2012 ("More illegal cigarettes seized as sellers turn to new tactics"; Jan 24).

The rise in tobacco duty collected and surge in contraband cigarettes seized from 2012 to last year hint at an increase in smoking in Singapore.

Can the authorities shed light on what appears to be contradictory data - a stabilising smoking rate versus rising tobacco duty revenue?

This article was first published on June 8, 2014.
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