Ending the smoking scourge

SINGAPORE- Non-smokers in Singapore not only have to endure second-hand smoke, but also smokers' anti-social behaviour that includes leaving burn marks on trash bins, tossing cigarette butts out of car windows and other acts of littering.

It is true that smokers have a right to smoke, but some forget that they have an obligation to be considerate to others.

The harmful effects of smoking are well documented. There is no reason why non-smokers should be expected to suffer the ill-effects of cigarette smoke.

The World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that everyone has a fundamental right to breathe clean air.

If smokers are generally considerate, there would be no need to enact laws to protect non-smokers' basic right to clean air.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, both inconsiderate smoking and the littering of cigarette butts have become worse.

Unless smokers stop puffing away in crowded places, and use in-car or portable ashtrays to extinguish and dispose of their cigarette butts, I urge the National Environment Agency to consider the following:

A nationwide ban on smoking in all public places except at designated areas with proper ashtrays and trash bins; A smoking ban, to come into effect in 2018, for all Singaporeans and residents born after 2000.

Only then can we end a habit that has caused unnecessary suffering, lost productivity and huge expenses to society.

Jonathan Toh Joo Khai

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