Banning not the solution to everything

There have been numerous calls to the authorities and in the media for a ban on smoking in HDB flats and condominiums.

If we do have a rule to ban one from smoking in his own house, who knows what will be next.

There may be calls to ban pets in homes, as animal furmay trigger a neighbour's allergies, or banning people from cooking spicy food or frying belachan (dried fermented shrimp paste) or fish, because the smell can cause some to feel nauseous (Consider rule to ban smoking in one's apartment, by Mr Victor Tan; Sept 12).

Such a rule will also be hard to administer. It is just going to waste public resources - imagine the police having to attend to complaints of neighbours smoking in their house.

Instead, smokers can be more considerate by closing their windows or blowing the smoke into their own house.

Non-smokers could perhaps close their windows, turn on the fans for better air circulation, discuss the issue with their neighbour, or consider mediation to find a solution.

But to impose a rule restricting people from smoking inside their own house is taking things too far.

I am surprised that the calls to ban smoking in one's home were even brought to Parliament for debate and consideration.

If we agree to pass such a Bill, it is as good as agreeing to banning many other things which can turn out sounding ridiculous. It is going to create more division and discord in society, which will not help in building an inclusive society.

In any society, there will be people who have disagreements, different views and opinions, different beliefs, different customs, and even some weird habits.

But we can all agree to disagree, accept each other's differences, weirdness and even habits. There are better ways to resolve differences and arguments than calls for a total ban.

So smokers or not, let's be more gracious and considerate, and think of how our actions would affect the person next to us. Let's come together to make this tiny island a more conducive place for all to live in.

Steven Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'Banning not the solution to everything'. Print Edition | Subscribe