Forum: Total ban the answer to getting rid of smoking

I agree with Mr Seah Yam Meng's call for a total ban on smoking (Set goal of total smoking ban, Jan 4).

The habit is lethal to not just the smokers themselves but also to people around them.

Smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. If smokers are stricken with such conditions in their later years, the high cost of treatment would be a burden to their families and even to society.

This would not be fair.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that about 300 people die from second-hand smoke exposure each year in Singapore. This is a public health concern. Last October, MP Louis Ng called for a ban on residents smoking near windows or in the balconies of their homes and raised an adjournment motion on protection against second-hand smoke in the home.

Look around and one may often find empty cigarette packs and stubs discarded at void decks and walkways or outside coffee shops. One may also see drivers flicking cigarette butts out of their moving cars.

The social and environmental costs are high.

After over three decades of anti-smoking measures, along with prohibition of smoking in many public places, perhaps it is time to consider working towards a total ban.

Many smokers who lack the willpower to quit may even welcome this move.

In the meantime, we could start the process by raising tobacco taxes to several times what they are now and banning menthol-flavoured cigarettes.

Kevin Chua Hock Meng

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