Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thank You for Smoking

They are tax-payers, they are fellow Singaporeans. They are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They used to have freedom to practice what they do. They used to have more space for themselves. Over the years, there is a public campaign to marginalise them, keep them out of public spaces. They can't do it anymore in restaurants, bars, indoors and even outdoors. Their rights are being encroached, it is the tyranny of the public. Why is nobody defending their rights? I'm not talking about gays or lesbians. I'm not talking about Scientologists or Satanists. I'm talking about smokers.

More public places to be designated as non-smoking areas

There will be more non-smoking areas in Singapore within the year.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament yesterday that the National Environment Agency (NEA) 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.

In reply to a question posted by Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim about the effectiveness of non-smoking areas in Singapore, Dr Balakrishnan said that the Ministry is actively monitoring and implementing initiatives to protect non-smokers and to reduce smokers.

The ministry's long-term goal is to prohibit smoking at all public places, except at designated smoking points.

Dr Balakrishnan said that the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act was introduced in 1970 to protect the public from the toxic health effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Other measures to achieve their objectives involve public education, legislation and taxation measures, provision of smoking cessation services and promotion of a smoke-free lifestyle.

Through the enforcement rounds conducted regularly and with the help of the public, the number of offenders caught has increased from 4,379 in 2007 to 5,057 in 2011.

Those caught smoking in a prohibited area will be liable to a maximum court fine of $1,000.

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