Set clear timeline towards smoke-free Singapore

While I applaud the Ministry of Health's (MOH) latest pre-emptive move to ban smokeless cigarettes in Singapore, I am disappointed that the Government did not leverage this opportunity to extend the ban to other forms of cigarettes as well ("Ban on smokeless cigarettes kicks in"; Dec 15).

According to the MOH press release, the Government is "banning emerging tobacco products as a pre-emptive measure to protect public health against the known and potential harms of such products".

Going by that objective, I am perplexed that the ban was not extended to include cigarettes, which can also produce second-hand smoke to affect people nearby.

The Government has, thus far, taken a two-pronged approach of educating the public and expanding the number of places where smoking is prohibited.

These measures are important but insufficient to protect the public from the ill effects of smoking.

I urge the Government to have a clear timeline of imposing a ban on smoking in Singapore if it intends to do so eventually.

This timeline would give smokers and retailers time to adjust their habits and business models, respectively. It would also clarify the Government's intent and resolve in protecting Singaporeans from the effects of smoking.

The vision of a smoke-free Singapore need not end up in smoke and can happen with bold policymaking in the interests of all Singaporeans.

Tham Tuck Meng