Consider rule to ban smoking in one's apartment

I am a Housing Board flat resident who suffers from the effects of second-hand smoke from inconsiderate neighbours living below.

Numerous attempts to resolve the problem have failed.

We end up having to seal our windows because we are helpless without any regulation in place.

The harmful effects of second-hand smoke, especially to young children, are well known.

So, what Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said is somewhat surprising. She stated that "an intrusive regulatory approach to tackling neighbourly issues could ultimately be even more detrimental to community harmony " (NEA officers get more powers to investigate smoking violations; Sept 11).

In my view, doing nothing to solve the problem of second-hand smoke suffered by neighbours will allow any disharmony between smoking and non-smoking neighbours to only continue.

This is even more detrimental to community harmony.

It was also mentioned that to regulate smoking in one's residential unit intrudes on the privacy of the occupant.

If I may use another law as an example: Under the Penal Code, it is illegal to walk around in one's residential unit in a manner which constitutes indecent exposure, where such conduct is visible to other neighbours.

I am supportive of this law. I am referring to it here to show that there should be no concerns over intruding on privacy if we were to enforce no smoking within residential units.

Very often, in a residential unit where there are smokers, there could be young children as well.

There is a mix of smokers and non-smokers residing in each residential block and it is tricky balancing the needs of both.

But surely the overall health of the majority should take precedence?

I urge the authority to consider a regulation on no smoking within residential units.

Perhaps the Housing and Development Board should review this instead of the National Environment Agency.

Victor Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Consider rule to ban smoking in one's apartment'. Print Edition | Subscribe