SINGAPORE - Worshippers attending Friday prayers at the Sultan Mosque were invited to choose between puffing on a cigarette and exchanging it for different kind of puff - a curry puff.
The national mosque at Kampong Glam was one of seven mosques islandwide that took part in the "Puff for a Puff" initiative on Friday (June 28).
From end-June to mid-October this year, smokers in the Malay community can come by the "Puff for a Puff" booth at 22 partner mosques and trade their cigarettes for free curry puffs.
After the swop, they can sign up for the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) "I Quit 28-Day Programme" to get continued support to help them commit to kicking the habit.
The "Puff for a Puff" initiative, part of the latest anti-smoking campaign by HPB, aims to highlight the cost - both financial and health - of smoking.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin, who was at Sultan Mosque, said: "The cost of a curry puff is about the same as the price of a cigarette, or even cheaper."
A standard packet of 20 sticks of cigarettes costs about $14, or about 70 cents a stick.
The curry puffs given out at the mosques are also healthier as they are fried in oil with less saturated fat and use wholegrain flour.
Before the exchange, smokers break the cigarettes and place them in a jar for the HPB to dispose of later.
The HPB said this latest effort is to "encourage smokers to take the first step to quit the habit", something that some smokers have said is the hardest part to do.
One of the smokers at the Sultan Mosque was Mr Muhammad Azli, 30, an IT engineer.
He told The Straits Times that he has tried to quit smoking in the past but failed every time.
"I've been smoking for close to 15 years now... It's hard to suddenly stop."
He traded in one cigarette stick for a curry puff, but chose not to sign up for the "I Quit" programme because he "did not feel ready yet".
He said he has been smoking less since the beginning of this year, cutting down from one box of 20 sticks a day to five sticks a day.
Another smoker, Mr Radin Ilahi, 42, a personal driver, said he has been trying to quit since last year by exercising more and eating sweets to fight the urge to light up.
He now smokes one box of cigarettes in three or four days, down from four boxes a day.
On Friday, he happily traded in one box of his cigarettes for curry puffs.
The single father of two said he would save $500 to $600 a month if he stopped smoking.
After getting the curry puffs, he signed up for the "I Quit" programme, hoping to get professional help to quit for good.
His children, aged 16 and 18, are the main source of motivation for him to stop smoking.
"They also try to help me quit. When I'm sleeping at night, they secretly throw away my cigarettes," he said with a laugh.
Correction note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct number of mosques islandwide that took part in the "Puff for a Puff" initiative. We are sorry for the error.