More evidence-based measures to hit 2020 anti-smoking target

It is heartening to know that Orchard Road will go smoke-free from next year (Publicity builds up as Orchard Rd smoke-free date nears; Nov 29).

The Government's plan to embark on smoke-free precincts is much appreciated.

It is hoped that the 40 designated smoking areas in Orchard Road can progressively be reduced to discourage smoking even more, and that this will eventually be implemented in the entire Central Business District.

Other measures that the Government is embarking on are to progressively raise the minimum legal age for smoking from 18 to 21, as well as to implement standardised packaging and increase the size of the pictorial warning labels on cigarette packaging by 2020.

This will bring us closer to the aim of reducing the number of smokers to 10 per cent of the population, from the current 12 per cent, by 2020.

While these measures are indeed noteworthy, we need more evidence-based measures to be introduced in order to achieve the 2020 target.

Therefore, the Government should also look into implementing the following strategies:

 • Targeted health promotion and education for youth to prevent initiation of smoking.

 • General media campaigns to highlight the dangers of smoking as well as to denormalise smoking.

 • A campaign to promote smoke-free homes and reduce second-hand smoke.

 • Higher taxes on tobacco products over the next three years to reach about 75 per cent from its current rate of about 69 per cent.

 • More heavily subsidised or free smoking-cessation programmes to encourage more people to quit.

 • A comprehensive programme with a smoke-free city as the endgame.

K. Thomas Abraham (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'More evidence-based measures to hit 2020 anti-smoking target'. Print Edition | Subscribe