Parliament to debate rule changes on tobacco sales

Monday's session to also discuss mental health of students and next-generation ERP

Proposed changes to rules governing the sale of tobacco products will come up for debate when Parliament sits on Monday.

The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill will require stores to keep tobacco products, such as cigarettes, out of sight, and hand them over to customers only on request.

If the Bill is passed, retailers will be allowed to display only a standard format, text-only price list, and will not be allowed to display their wares.

This is among three Bills the House will debate.

The other two Bills involve changes to the Mental Capacity Act and the Economic Expansion Incentives (Relief from Income Tax) Act.

MPs have also filed 45 questions, including two about the mental health of school students.

At the last Parliament session earlier this month, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, and Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng delivered ministerial statements on Benjamin Lim, a teenager who committed suicide on Jan 25 after being questioned by police.

Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh, from the Workers' Party, wants to know if school counsellors are required to assess the suicide risk of students who are under police investigation. Dr Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC) is asking if teachers and counsellors are trained to recognise and deal with the psychological and mental health issues that students face.

Also up for discussion is the next-generation Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, due to be rolled out in 2020. It will rely on satellite navigation to track vehicles and have the ability to charge according to the distance travelled.

Concerns over how this will impact road users, such as taxi drivers, deliverymen and movers, have led Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) to ask if there are plans to review the annual road tax and Certificate of Entitlement scheme to offset the additional costs motorists might face.

Ms Lee said: "My residents have been discussing this, and they wonder if the road tax would be abolished so they are not taxed twice. Also, do we still need COE to control the number of cars on the road?"

Meanwhile, Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) has filed a question asking if the Housing Board will allow second- or third-time flat buyers to take HDB loans if they do not qualify for bank loans. "I've noticed an increasing number of residents having difficulty getting bank approvals," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Parliament to debate rule changes on tobacco sales'. Print Edition | Subscribe