Do more to protect non-smokers

The act of smoking around others, causing harm to innocent bystanders through toxic second-hand smoke, remains a thorny issue. This hazardous behaviour needs to be curtailed.

According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke causes around 600,000 deaths worldwide every year.

Precious lives can be saved and families kept intact if we make smoke-free areas the norm.

Having more smoke-free places, with smoking permitted only at designated points away from crowds, should be the way to go.

This is badly needed in Singapore, which has the second-highest population density among cities studied by local think-tank Centre for Liveable Cities.

Studies have shown that smoking bans cut the number of heart attacks in Europe and North America by up to a third.

The health authorities must, therefore, do more to safeguard non-smokers against involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke, both in public places and at home.

For instance, there is no point urging people to maintain healthy lifestyles when any health benefits reaped by non-smokers are nullified by persistent exposure to carcinogenic smoke from neighbours in multi-unit housing.

Tomorrow being World No Tobacco Day, my wish is that more smokers will quit this harmful habit. Why "burn" precious health and money away with cigarettes?

Failing which, segregation is the only solution to satisfy smokers and protect the well-being of non-smokers.

Liu I-Chun (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Do more to protect non-smokers'. Print Edition | Subscribe