HPB considers upping minimum cigarette purchase age from 18 to 21

The Health Promotion Board is studying New York's recent move to increase the minimum age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 21. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
The Health Promotion Board is studying New York's recent move to increase the minimum age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 21. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The Health Promotion Board is studying New York's recent move to increase the minimum age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 21.

It said on Tuesday that it is also monitoring Australia's efforts impose plain packaging for cigarettes, among other measures to reduce the number of smokers here.

Meanwhile, more people have quit smoking thanks to a national smoking campaign that keeps them off cigarettes for 28 days.

Some 3,400 signed up for the I Quit 28 Day Countdown last year, with 14 per cent staying smoke-free for at least six months.

This is up from the 1,500 who signed simple pledges to quit smoking in 2011, when only 10 per cent succeeded after six months.

"I Quit has been around for many years and people are familiar with it," said Ms Vasuki D/O Utravathy, deputy director of substance abuse at the HPB.

The campaign, launched in 2011, is fronted by smokers who managed to kick the habit while smokers are sent text messages which encourage them to quit for 28 days.

Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to quit for good if they stave off cigarettes for four weeks.

The HPB's Quit Hotline received about 14,500 callers in 2013, compared to just 5,917 in 2012 and 2,681 in 2011.