Doing his part to keep the air clean

SINGAPORE - With the haze creeping back into Singapore, everyone should play their part to keep the air clean.

For Mr Ng Hak Hai, chairman of the Nee Soon South Clean and Green Committee, this includes keeping second-hand smoke away from busy areas such as walkways.

"Second-hand smoke is no good for health," said the 52-year-old. "If smokers can smoke in places away from the crowd, it will improve the quality of life for residents."

He is part of a group of more than 10 resident volunteers who patrol the Nee Soon South Zone D area - Singapore's first community-led smoke-free zone - to encourage smokers to use smoking "sheds" rather than puff away in the open.

During their hour-long rounds, which take place at least once a week, volunteers also distribute Health Promotion Board booklets with tips on how to quit the habit.

Under a one-year pilot scheme launched in January, smoking is allowed only in the six designated sheds in Nee Soon South Zone D, which spans 28 blocks, although those who light up away from the designated areas cannot be penalised.

Mr Ng said it can be a challenge to convince smokers to be considerate. "Sometimes when we approach them, they don't bother," he said.

Still, he is not discouraged. He hopes the volunteers' "softer, educational" approach will work eventually, adding: "More people are using it (the sheds) now."

Mr Ng also welcomed the National Environment Agency's move to step up enforcement, saying it complemented his team's advisory approach.

"There are some grey areas in enforcement, such as if someone is smoking at the side of a covered walkway," he said.

"With a softer approach, we can advise and persuade them to not smoke in these areas before they are fined."


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