SINGAPORE - Measures to further discourage unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive sugar consumption are on the Health Ministry's (MOH) agenda, as it tries to promote healthy living.
"MOH's first priority is to help Singaporeans stay healthy," said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong on Friday (May 11) in an addendum to the President's Address.
"Singaporeans will be empowered through information, technology, and smart behavioural nudges to eat healthily, keep active and take charge of their health, while industries and employers will be encouraged to provide supportive environments for healthy behaviour."
While experts said current measures to deter smoking are laudable, they also suggested other ways to tackle the problem.
Dr K Thomas Abraham, adviser to social enterprise Sata CommHealth, suggested increasing the size of health warning labels on cigarette packets.
"Hardcore smokers are unlikely to be affected, but we are concerned about young smokers picking up the habit," he said.
To incentivise smokers to quit, cessation clinics can also offer free or heavily discounted sessions dependent on whether they manage to break the habit, Dr Abraham added.
Dr Koong Heng Nung, founder of non-profit organisation Tobacco Free Generation International, reckons measures to deter smoking should be less punitive, and instead incorporate more understanding and peer support.
"Young smokers are still not deterred because they are not engaged by punitive measures," said Dr Koong, a lung surgeon in private practice at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre.
Instead, youth can share positive messages about staying smoke-free with their peers, he added.
Besides promoting healthy habits, MOH also plans to roll out new healthcare services legislation and a National Anti-Microbial Resistance Plan to prevent the emergence and spread of drug-resistant micro-organisms.
Two other ministries released their addenda on Friday - the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). The theme for their addenda was "A Cohesive, Caring and Inclusive Society".
MSF said it will continue to transform the early childhood sector, foster a family-friendly environment, enhance opportunities for everyone to succeed, and nurture a more caring and inclusive society.
MCCY will focus on building a caring, cohesive, and confident nation, that is enabled by an active citizenry and a vibrant arts and heritage, sports, community, and youth landscape.
"In the next lap of Singapore's journey, we need to be prepared for challenges to our social cohesion and harmony," said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
"To rise above these challenges, we must care for the vulnerable, deepen our trust in one another, and have a strong sense of shared identity."