Orchard Road ramps up fight against smoking

This smoking zone outside Far East Plaza adds to others already designated at shopping malls and office buildings. The Orchard Road Business Association has pushed for smoking points to be sited in back lanes.
This smoking zone outside Far East Plaza adds to others already designated at shopping malls and office buildings. The Orchard Road Business Association has pushed for smoking points to be sited in back lanes.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Shopping belt unveils new smoking zones in a bid to reduce second-hand smoke exposure

Designated smoking points are making their mark along the Orchard Road shopping belt, as the area inches towards becoming smoke-free.

Last month, four white L-shaped markings were painted outside several shopping malls, demarcating a rectangular zone with a bin in the centre. On close inspection, the words Designated Smoking Area can be seen in small print on the side of the bin.

Five designated smoking areas have been set up along Orchard Road as part of a government study to observe their usage and effectiveness in reducing smoking activity in the surrounding areas, said the National Environment Agency.

Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) executive director Steven Goh said having a smoke-free Orchard Road is the association's long-term vision.

"As a place manager, we want to continue to make Orchard a pleasurable environment for all visitors," he added.

"If you look at Orchard Road, many smokers will congregate around dustbins, which can be quite unsightly and cause inconvenience to people passing by."

NO HEALTH WORRIES

As a place manager, we want to continue to make Orchard a pleasurable environment for all visitors.

MR STEVEN GOH, executive director of the Orchard Road Business Association, on the long-term vision of a smoke-free Orchard Road.

Mr Goh said Orba had, over the last year or two, also suggested to the authorities to put smoking points in less-crowded locations - such as back lanes or alleys between buildings - to reduce second-hand smoke.

The new smoking zones add to existing ones already carved out by building owners at shopping malls and office buildings.

They come even as Nee Soon South, the first residential estate to erect walled smoking "sheds", reaches its target of 50 designated smoking points.

They also bring Singapore closer to achieving the Government's long-term goal of prohibiting smoking in all public areas.

Smoking is already banned at reservoirs and more than 400 parks, and at common areas like void decks, sheltered walkways and linkways.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who is chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Environment, said the smoking points at Nee Soon South - which comprises 147 blocks - will be officially launched in two weeks.

The smoking points, each measuring 3m by 3m and situated at least 5m from housing blocks, have received praise from residents living on lower floors and above coffeeshops, where second-hand smoke was a problem.

About 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the smoke from every cigarette ends up as second-hand smoke, which has at least 400 poisonous chemicals and can cause respiratory tract infections, heart disease and cancers.

"It is unfair that non-smokers have to bear these effects," said Ms Lee.

Frasers Centrepoint Malls said it has rolled out designated smoking areas at the majority of its 12 shopping malls.

These areas are clearly marked out with a yellow box or signage, with bins provided for the proper disposal of cigarette ash and butts.

A spokesman said: "This has helped to reduce the number of smokers loitering around the malls and a reduction in cigarette butts littered. Mall security officers patrol the mall perimeter to enforce smoking at designated areas."

City Square Mall, managed by City Developments, also has a smoking point.

This has improved cleanliness around the mall, said a mall spokesman.

Smokers whom The Straits Times spoke to at Orchard Road's new smoking zones said they noticed these spotsonly two weeks ago.

Some have complained of inconvenience but Mr Charles Tan, 28, a hairstylist who was seated at a bench within the zone outside Far East Plaza, said he will comply with the requirement.

Orba's Mr Goh said: "If 80 per cent of people don't smoke, then you can't inconvenience them just for the 20 per cent that do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Orchard ramps up fight against smoking'. Print Edition | Subscribe