NS a good time to combat smoking

I am appalled that despite our nation's high-income and educational levels, more that one in five men in Singapore smoke (Diseases linked to smoking kill 6 people daily; March 27).

As a medical officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), I see a similar, if not higher, proportion of smokers among soldiers.

Higher smoking rates in the military is a common trend worldwide. Many perpetuate their habit during service due to limited pastimes and the common "bond" that smoking offers. Sadly, quite a few even succumb to peer pressure and pick up smoking during national service.

Fortunately, NS also provides a good opportunity to target smoking.

Higher smoking rates in the military is a common trend worldwide.
Many perpetuate their habit during service due to limited pastimes and the common "bond" that smoking offers.
​Sadly, quite a few even succumb to peer pressure and pick up smoking during national service.

The SAF smoking cessation programme can be strengthened and expanded to proactively seek out servicemen, both full-time national servicemen and regulars, and encourage them to quit their habit during service.

I laud the banning of smoking except in zoned yellow boxes in SAF camps and when the men are in uniform in public.

Perhaps the SAF could come up with more incentives or disincentives to deter smoking.

For example, during my stint as a unit medical officer, I took away smoking privileges from servicemen who reported sick for upper respiratory tract infection, in addition to providing medication and rest.

Roger Teo Chee Yih (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'NS a good time to combat smoking'. Print Edition | Subscribe