SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) does not conduct enforcement against individuals who smoke in their homes, as the law does not prohibit smoking in residences, it said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Sept 26).
The post comes after rumours circulated on social media earlier this week, claiming that the agency had put up cameras in Housing Board blocks to catch those smoking in their bedrooms.
"Beware of #FakeNews," the NEA said.
On Sunday, Twitter user @kiisamii claimed that his brother's friend was fined $200 for smoking near his room, and that the NEA had pictorial evidence of him doing it.
In response to his post, another Twitter user posted a picture of equipment bearing the NEA's logo, which was placed along the corridor of an HDB flat.
A third user shared the photos as well, with the caption: "So they just summoned someone and this was the camera that they installed to catch those smoking in bedrooms and all... NEA you so despo is it? On ground didn't catch enough? (sic)"
In its Facebook post on Wednesday, the NEA said the cameras spotted are used only for high-rise littering enforcement.
"NEA currently deploys surveillance cameras in areas with persistent high-rise littering to catch the culprits," it said.
The agency added that such cameras are positioned to focus only on the external facade of the housing units or common areas that are being investigated.
Strict protocols are also in place governing the use of the video footage, which is only shared to facilitate investigations or for the purpose of prosecution in court.
The NEA said that it has thermal surveillance cameras for smoking enforcement purposes.
These will be deployed from the first half of 2019 in areas where smoking is prohibited, as well as public spaces where people keep smoking when they are not supposed to, such as common corridors, lift lobbies and staircase landings.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.