The National Environment Agency (NEA) thanks readers for their letters expressing support for the latest smoking prohibition extension to residential parks and reservoirs ("Smoking ban extension a step towards fresher air" by Miss Shirley Chooi Xuan Hui, "More enforcement must accompany new rules" by Mr Tan Jeh Yaw, and "Snuff out lighting up while walking" by Mr Michael Yang Bai; all published last Thursday, and "Good to keep parks free of smoke" by Miss Ong Si Min and "Extend smoking ban to less crowded areas" by Miss Jong Ching Yee; both published online last Wednesday).
NEA notes the various suggestions on where else smoking should be prohibited. We will take these into consideration as we continue to progressively expand the list of smoke-free places covered under the Smoking (Prohibition In Certain Places) Act, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.
According to the 2010 National Health Survey, 14.3 per cent of our resident population aged 18 to 69 are smokers.
Many smokers, aware of the health impact that their habit causes to others, are compliant with smoking prohibition laws.
As we extend the ban to more places, our goal is to help smokers make the necessary adjustments so that they can continue to stay compliant with the law - hence the three-month grace period, where only warnings will be issued to smokers caught smoking at these newly prohibited locations when the ban takes effect.
Enforcement of the smoking prohibition law is necessary. NEA actively checks and patrols smoking hot spots, as well as locations on which we receive public feedback.
Last year, about 17,000 tickets for smoking in prohibited areas were issued by NEA.
However, as the smoking ban covers more than 32,000 premises, including shopping malls, hospitals, bus stops, covered walkways and common areas of residential buildings, it is not possible for NEA to deploy officers to watch over each of these locations all the time.
Operators and managers of premises are required to stop patrons from smoking in such smoking-prohibited areas or request that patrons who smoke leave the premises.
Everyone can help to ensure the effective implementation of the smoking prohibition extension.
Smokers are reminded to be socially responsible and considerate when smoking in public places and to smoke in permitted areas only.
The community can also play an active role by reminding smokers not to light up in places where smoking is prohibited.
Tai Ji Choong
Vector Control and Sanitation Department
National Environment Agency