Concrete plan needed to tackle teen smoking

More retailers have had their tobacco licences revoked or suspended for selling to minors, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) disclosed recently (13 tobacco retailers caught selling to minors: HSA; Aug 17).

A common refrain in response to reports of this nature is that minors are able to easily get their cigarettes from adults above 18 years of age.

The HSA should clarify if it is legal for someone to give tobacco products to a minor. If it is a grey area, will this loophole be plugged?

Another observation that is often made is that the number of offending retailers apprehended by the HSA is low, in the light of the widespread problem out there.

It was reported last year in The New Paper that seven out of 10 stores did not verify identification before selling cigarettes to interns sent out by the paper to assess the scale of the problem.

Compare this finding to the 53 licences suspended and nine revoked by the HSA since 2015, and it seems that the HSA is merely scratching the surface of the issue.

Many people who are concerned about the severity of the problem of teen smokers are eager to hear about the HSA's plan to seriously make a dent in this matter.

Lim Teck Koon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Concrete plan needed to tackle teen smoking'. Print Edition | Subscribe