We thank Dr Quek Koh Choon ("Great cost and damage from smoking"; Feb 3) and Mr Patrick Tan Siong Kuan ("Ban has not stopped smoking in public places"; Forum Online, Feb 12) for their letters highlighting the effects of smoking on the public, and for their suggestions to prohibit and enforce the smoking ban more strictly in public places such as public toilets, common corridors, bus stops and parks.
The Government's long-term goal is to prohibit smoking in all public areas to protect non-smokers from the harmful health effects of second-hand smoke.
Smoking is already banned at more than 32,000 premises and locations, including bus stops, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, covered walkways, playgrounds, common areas of residential developments, public toilets and selected parks.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) actively conducts inspections and patrols at locations where we receive public feedback, as well as at smoking hotspots.
Last year, the NEA issued about 19,000 enforcements against offenders for smoking in prohibited areas.
The NEA will continue to take a strict stance against smokers who flout the law.
However, as it is not possible for the NEA to deploy officers to watch over each of these locations all the time, all operators and managers of premises are required to stop patrons from smoking in their respective smoking-prohibited areas, or to request patrons who smoke to leave the premises.
We would like to remind smokers to be socially responsible and considerate when smoking in public places, and to smoke only in areas where smoking is not prohibited.
With reasonable policies and mutual consideration from both smokers and non-smokers, we can achieve a good living environment for everyone.
We will take Dr Quek and Mr Tan's suggestions into consideration when extending the smoking prohibition further.
Wendy Ang (Ms)
Environmental Policy Division
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources