SINGAPORE - Since Orchard Road turned smoke-free with a smoking ban kicking in on Jan 1, the number of advisories issued for smoking outside designated zones has fallen by 60 per cent.
The National Environment Agency (NEA), in a Facebook post on Friday (Feb 15), said there was an average of 1,900 advisories a day six weeks ago.
But this figure has since dipped to an average of 710 advisories a day last week.
More than 42,600 advisories were issued from Jan 1 to Feb 10, with most of them issued at 313@Somerset, Orchard Central, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard and Mandarin Gallery.
A majority of the advisories were issued from 1pm to 9pm as well as on Sunday. Mondays and Tuesdays had the least number of advisories.
Around 70 per cent of the advisories were given to locals, while 30 per cent were for foreigners.
In the Facebook post, NEA noted that smokers are becoming more familiar with the locations of the 50 designated smoking zones in Orchard Road and are getting used to using them.
In the first three months of the roll-out, from January to March, NEA said it will be taking an "advisory approach".
Those caught smoking outside of designated smoking areas will receive a verbal warning.
NEA said on Friday that smokers have been generally receptive when advised by officers and volunteers to comply with the law.
With actual enforcement to take place come April, NEA added that it is engaging mall management at Orchard Road and advising tenants and employees to join its I Quit programme.
The agency is also working with the Singapore Tourism Board, the airport and seaport to better inform tourists and visitors of the Orchard Road no-smoking zone.
"We will continue to raise the public's awareness of where smoking is allowed in the Orchard Road precinct," it said.
Orchard Road Business Association executive director Steven Goh said that the feedback by stakeholders and visitors has been positive.
"Since the implementation of the no-smoking zone, the Orchard Road pedestrian thoroughfare is comparatively cleaner for all non-smoking visitors, while smokers have adjusted to smoking within the designated smoking areas," he added.
Dr Reginald Liew, a senior consultant cardiologist and director of the Harley Street Heart and Cancer Centre, said that the introduction of the Orchard precinct no smoking zone is an important step towards reducing the burden of heart disease in the community among both active smokers and non-smokers.
"Smoking remains one of the major, modifiable risk factors to the development of coronary artery disease and stroke," he said.
"The harmful particles found in cigarette smoke can make the blood more 'sticky' and lead to the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels of the heart which can suddenly rupture and cause a heart attack."
He added that non-smokers are also at risk if they inhale cigarette smoke, with multiple studies showing that repeated exposure to second-hand smoke can damage the heart and blood vessels.
This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke by 20 to 30 per cent in both children and adults.
Correction note: An earlier version of this story said the average number of advisories dipped to 170 a day last week. It should be 710. We are sorry for the error.