Smoking costs on many levels

The problem with tobacco use goes way beyond the immediate negative health effects on the smokers themselves ("Cigarette sellers expect confusion"; June 27).

At the most obvious level of concern, there are the potential direct costs of the extensive healthcare often required for each smoker and the loss of productivity caused by missed workdays due to illness.

These problems get more complex when countries like Singapore pool risks and healthcare costs, as in the pending MediShield Life programme.

Financial prudence dictates that smokers should pay healthcare insurance rates that are significantly higher than those who make better lifestyle choices.

At the second level of concern are the innocent family members and bystanders who are affected by second-hand smoke, which has been proven to contain over 400 carcinogens. The ban on smoking aboard aircraft, in most public buildings, in common areas, including bus stops, and in parks around the world is testament to the growing acknowledgement of the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Children and family members of smokers who choose to smoke at home are particularly vulnerable to this.

At the third level, there are the environmental and clean-up costs of the billions of cigarette butts, cellophane wrappers and cigarette boxes that often end up discarded on streets and in parks.

Ocean clean-up campaigns often report that a large portion of the litter recovered from beaches is tobacco-related.

Then there is the friction and animosity between smokers and non-smokers.

Let us set an SG50 goal to resolve all these issues by making Singapore the first country that eliminates smoking entirely.

As your doctor will tell you, stopping smoking is the best and fastest way to improve our collective health.

David Grant