F&B outlets can no longer apply for new smoking corners; public areas in Orchard Road to go smoke-free from July 2018

Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Bideford Road and Orchard Road.
Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Bideford Road and Orchard Road.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) will not be accepting applications for new smoking corners in any food retail establishments islandwide with immediate effect.

This affects food establishments ranging from coffee shops to restaurants.

The existing smoking corners in food retail establishments will be allowed to remain until the current licence for them is terminated or cancelled.

If an establishment with an existing smoking corner renews its licence, the corner can remain as well. But there is an exception for Orchard Road.

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From July 1 next year smokers will no longer be able to light up at public areas at Orchard Road, except at designated smoking areas.

At the Orchard Road precinct, smoking corners at food retail establishments there will be rescinded by June 30 next year, said Mr Derek Ho, NEA's director general public health on Friday (June 30).

 

The smoke-free zone extends from Tanglin Road to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, up to Goodwood Park Hotel at Scotts Road.

Landed residential premises and open areas within the compounds of non-landed residential premises will not be subject to the ban, except for existing prohibited places such as exercise areas and playgrounds.

 

The list of places where smoking is prohibited was expanded to reservoirs and more than 400 parks in June last year. Other places include void decks, shopping malls, hospitals and any area within a 5m radius of a bus stop.

NEA will continue to engage the various stakeholders during this one-year period to ensure that "no smoking" signs are installed at the affected premises and roads, and that bins with ashtrays will be replaced with those without.

Bins placed along the main thoroughfare will also carry messages reminding people that the area is a smoke-free zone.

Premises owners have also been advised to send a circular to their tenants to inform them about the smoke-free zone and the location of nearby designated smoking areas.

During the first three months of the roll-out of the Orchard Road smoke-free zone, those caught smoking in public areas there will receive verbal warnings. However, smokers who repeatedly flout the law despite repeated warnings may be issued a fine. Enforcement action will be taken against all offenders from October next year.

Last year, about 19,000 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited areas.

Smokers at Orchard Road The Straits Times spoke to had mixed feelings about the upcoming restrictions.

“It’ll be quite troublesome. (We) don’t know which places will be designated as smoking areas; it might be quite far away and sometimes we have to rush back to the shop,” said Ms Niki Chua, 32.

“But it will look cleaner... Some people smoke outside and throw (their cigarette butts) on the plants,” added the sales assistant.

Mr Troy Liu, 34, who owns a travel and technology start-up, said that he would “just have to adjust”.

“I’m used to (smoking) being banned everywhere I go... I will find somewhere else (to smoke) where it’s permitted,” said Mr Liu. “I don’t mind walking a little further.”

Tourist Simon Widmer, 26, thinks the ban is “good”.

“I think it’s very nice for people who don’t smoke,” said the Swiss national, who works in the finance industry.

This is the latest in a series of measures by the authorities to crack down on smoking.

In March, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it plans to raise the minimum legal smoking age from 18 to 21 in an effort to cut down on youth smokers. The restriction would cover the sale of tobacco to those under 21 years of age, as well as the purchase, use and possession of tobacco products by them.