Date Published: 09 Jul 2012
Question by Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim:
To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) over the last five years, what has been the estimated number of smokers and non-smokers in Singapore; and (b) how effective is the implementation of non-smoking areas in various parts of Singapore.
1. Smoking prevalence in Singapore is estimated through surveys that are conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) every three years. The most recent survey was carried out in 2010, and showed that 14.3% of Singaporeans smoke. This was an increase from the 13.6% that was found from the previous survey conducted in 2007. A significant share of the increase can be attributed to higher prevalence of smoking among those aged 18-39.
2. The Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act, which is administered by the National Environment Agency (NEA), was first introduced in 1970 to protect non-smokers from the harmful health effects of environmental tobacco smoke. It is part of the inter-agency multi-pronged approach of the National Tobacco Control Programme, led by HPB, to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Singapore. Other measures include public education, legislation and taxation measures, provision of smoking cessation services and promotion of a smoke-free lifestyle.
3. Those who smoke where smoking is prohibited are liable to a maximum court fine of $1,000. Enforcement rounds are currently conducted daily at non-smoking places. In addition, NEA conducts enforcement blitzes targeted at areas that have been highlighted by the public. The number of offenders caught for smoking at non-smoking places increased from 4,379 in 2007 to 5,057 in 2011. The community can also play an active role in maintaining a smoke-free environment through self-policing by providing feedback to NEA via various feedback channels for our follow-up investigation and enforcement.
4. Since its introduction, the smoking ban has benefited the non-smoking majority in Singapore. It has become a social norm that smoking does not take place in indoor premises, such as restaurants, cinemas and shopping malls. The long-term goal is to prohibit smoking at all public places, except at designated smoking points. As part of plans to extend the smoking prohibition, NEA engaged the public in December 2011 to seek their views through an online survey, which garnered over 8000 responses. NEA will continue to build up public support and work closely with local communities and stakeholders to gradually expand the list of smoke-free places. This year, we will be extending the prohibition to common areas in residential buildings, sheltered walkways, linkways, overhead bridges, outdoor compounds of hospitals and a five metre buffer zone around bus shelters. NEA will also work with HPB on community ground-up efforts as we move to a future where Singaporeans