Ramp up efforts to make smoking 'uncool'

Hiding a problem may not eradicate it. Therefore, keeping cigarettes out of sight may not keep them out of smokers' minds ("Ban on display of tobacco products from 2017"; Tuesday).

We need to remove the roots as well as the symptoms of the problem to resolve it completely.

In this regard, I have some suggestions.

The authorities should forecast the potential lines of actions that they will consider to tackle this habit. These actions should include a projection of future excise duties on the import of cigarettes. This will act as a deterrent to help smokers and potential smokers quit smoking.

Smoking often starts as, and remains, a social activity. It is deemed to be a "cool" activity.

The authorities should continue to make it "uncool" to be seen smoking in public. They should tighten the pressure to make it anti-social to smoke in public.

Besides banning smoking in some public areas, the authorities should also look into banning it from places with regular human traffic, and increase the distance between smokers and such places over time.

They should continue to impose restrictions on the shops that sell cigarettes and, if possible, regulate the shapes and sizes of cigarettes and cigarette boxes.

As a last straw, the authorities could also consider banning smoking for young people who are born after a specified year.

I am sure many parents, including smokers, will support such a ban.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Ramp up efforts to make smoking 'uncool''. Print Edition | Subscribe