NEA vision: Ban on smoking in all public areas

TODAY, 9 Jun 2016, NEA vision: Ban on smoking in all public areas

FROM
TONY TEO, DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH OPERATIONS, NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

The National Environment Agency (NEA) thanks Ms Sherley Servos and Ms Liu I-Chun for their views and suggestions (“NEA should work closely with public to enforce smoking ban”; May 31 and “Have entire smoke-free zones in public places”; May 30, online).

The NEA is working actively towards our vision of prohibiting smoking in all public spaces other than designated
smoking areas.

Smoking is now prohibited in more than 32,000 premises.

And from June 1, smokers can no longer light up at reservoirs, parks under JTC Corporation’s purview, parks in public housing estates managed by the respective town councils, and neighbourhood parks under the National Parks Board within private housing estates.

Summing these up, there are already broad, contiguous smoke-free areas in our residential, work and commercial
spaces, even though they are not branded as “smoke-free zones”.

Nonetheless, the NEA is exploring designated smoke-free zones as suggested by Ms Liu, and has been engaging
stakeholders to discuss how these could be implemented.

Ms Servos’ personal example of advising smokers against smoking where it is prohibited shows how each of us can
help foster smoke-free public spaces.

Many smokers, being aware of the health impact their habit has on others, are compliant with the smoking
prohibition laws.

Friendly and timely reminders from family, friends and other members of the community can help reinforce the right social behaviour and norms.

Operators and managers of premises are also required by law to stop patrons from smoking in prohibited areas, or
request patrons who smoke to leave the premises.

Enforcement is ultimately necessary, and the NEA takes a tough stance against smokers who flout the law. Last year,
about 17,000 such offenders were ticketed.

It is not possible, however, to watch over every location where smoking is prohibited, nor is it realistic to
expect the NEA to be able to respond immediately to a reported incident in a prohibited place before the smoker
finishes his cigarette.

Nonetheless, the NEA welcomes all such feedback, as it enables us to better deploy our resources at problem areas.
Members of the public who observe smoking infringements may contact us at 1800-2255632.

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