SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency's long-term policy goal is to prohibit smoking at all public areas except designated smoking points ("Be stricter in enforcing smoking ban" by Miss Annabelle Woo Xue Qi; below).
The list of prohibited areas has been progressively expanded. Since last year, smoking has been prohibited in an estimated 32,000 premises and locations, such as entertainment outlets, shopping malls, office premises, hospitals, schools, cinemas and bus stops, as well as public corridors, covered walkways, lift lobbies, stairwells and entrances to buildings.
Given the large number of places where smoking is prohibited, it is not possible for the NEA to deploy officers to watch over all such locations where smoking violations can take place at all hours.
The Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act therefore requires operators and managers of premises where smoking is banned to stop patrons from smoking in such areas. The NEA takes enforcement action against errant smokers as well as the management of the premises, where applicable.
For areas identified as smoking hot spots, such as bus stops and covered walkways, the NEA has been conducting regular enforcement rounds.
In the first six months of this year, the NEA has taken 8,249 enforcement actions against offenders who smoked at places where smoking is prohibited, of which 3,408 were for smoking offences at bus stops and covered walkways.
We thank Miss Woo for her suggestion on using cameras to identify frequent offenders, and will evaluate the effectiveness of this method.
Smokers are encouraged to be socially responsible and considerate when smoking in public places, and to smoke only in permitted areas.
Members of the public who observe infringements of the Act may contact the NEA on 1800-225-5632.
Tai Ji Choong Departmental Director, Environmental Health Department National Environment Agency
Be stricter in enforcing smoking ban
Though the National Environment Agency (NEA) has implemented new smoking regulations and extended the smoking ban to more public places, the rules have not been effectively enforced.
Every morning, I see people smoking openly at areas such as bus stops and covered walkways, although the law forbids it. They believe they can get away with it as they have smoked at these areas several times without getting caught.
They are also getting bolder. I read online that someone was reprimanded after he asked a smoker to stop puffing away at a no-smoking area.
Not only are the actions of these smokers harmful to non-smokers nearby, but they also influence younger Singaporeans, such as curious children who may want to try smoking when they get older.
The NEA should get enforcement officers to conduct regular patrols at areas where smokers are likely to hang out.
Cameras could be installed near bus stops to identify frequent smokers, and a hotline could be created for the public to report regular smoking at prohibited areas.
This has been a persistent problem and I hope the NEA can take the necessary measures to eliminate it.
Letter from Annabelle Woo Xue Qi (Miss)
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.