A move to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke in and around Orchard Road will be pushed back by six months to give businesses more time to get ready.
Orchard Road was originally scheduled to go smoke-free on July 1, with smokers able to light up only in designated smoking areas. The move was announced on June 30 last year.
But the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday the smoking ban is likely to be implemented at the end of this year instead, as businesses said they needed more time to identify suitable locations and set up designated areas for smoking.
Food establishments that currently have smoking corners within the No Smoking Zone will also be given the same time extension to remove them, the agency added.
Existing smoking corners outside the zone which have already been approved will be allowed to remain until the current licences of the food establishments are terminated.
No new smoking corners will be approved for subsequent licensees of the same premises, added NEA.
The smoke-free zone for the Orchard Road area will stretch from Tanglin Mall to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, and encompass parts of Scotts and Grange roads as well.
To date, about 40 designated smoking areas have been set up, including five public areas at Orchard Towers, Far East Plaza, The Heeren, Cuppage Terrace, and behind Somerset MRT station.
Smokers have taken the ban in their stride and said they would adjust.
NEA said it has also actively engaged stakeholders, including the Orchard Road Business Association, since June 30 last year. It said the majority were supportive of the initiative but it had taken the decision to delay going smoke-free by some six months as some businesses said they needed more time to get prepared.
The authorities have progressively introduced stricter measures to curb smoking, with fewer and fewer public places where smoking is allowed. In March last year, the Ministry of Health also said it would raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21.
At the same time that it announced the Orchard Road smoking ban, NEA also said it would not accept applications for new smoking corners from any food establishments islandwide.