NEA, HPB launch e-poll on smoking prohibition, 28/11/11

Smoking may be banned in more public places if there is strong support for the move.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said there have been calls to make more public places smoke-free, and it wants to hear from the public on this.

More people appear to be in favour of a wider ban as the NEA has seen an increase of about 20 per cent in such calls in 2010. There were 556 calls in 2010, compared to 469 in 2009.

So the NEA is working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to get a better idea of public sentiment through an “e-poll”.

Khoo Seow Poh, deputy CEO of National Environment Agency, said: “Over the years, we have been extending the smoking ban to a few places progressively and our policy has thus far been quite effective.

“Today, some 86 per cent of Singaporeans are non-smokers. To further enhance the protection of this group of people, we are now considering further extending the smoking prohibition to more public areas.”

These could cover places like void decks, covered linkways and common corridors.

Most people MediaCorp spoke to agree.

One person said: “At the common walkway…because this is where most people will be going along from MRT stations.”

Another commented: “…..people walking towards a bus stop, they smoke on the way and while they are at the bus stop, they will continue (smoking) while waiting for the buses. So I think that is not right. Probably, you can start the ban even from the walkways leading to all these bus stops.”

A third person added: “Void decks, if possible, especially areas where you have children walking around. It is quite bad for them.”

Others want stronger enforcement in places like bus stops and public toilets where smoking is already banned.

One member of the public said: “It is still happening. So maybe the bans are not really effective.”

Another noted: “Wherever I want to take the bus, there are always a lot of smokers smoking and it affects me.”

NEA’s e-poll will also ask if smoking corners in places such as hawker centres and food and entertainment outlets should be removed, and if smoking should be banned in beaches and parks.

However, some people are concerned.

A member of the public said: “Where are they going to smoke? You might as well ban smoking in all places as well.”

Smoking is currently banned in 37 public places.

As of October this year, 4,462 smokers were caught for flouting the law – more than the total number caught for the whole of 2009.

Most were caught breaking the no-smoking rule in shopping malls and multi-storey carparks.

The poll is on till the end of next month and those who want to share their views can go to the REACH, NEA or HPB websites.

Source: ChannelNewsAsia