Government exploring extending smoking ban to public places

by Esther Ng

SINGAPORE – Smokers could soon have fewer public places at which to light up. In its addendum to President Tony Tan’s address at Monday’s opening of Parliament, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said yesterday it is “exploring an extension of the smoking ban to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke on non-smokers”.

The ministry is expected to make its recommendations early next year. Members of Parliament Today spoke to felt the extension could be a prohibition on smoking while walking or in public areas where smokers congregate.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and the Environment, said her residents had hoped the Government would extend the smoking ban at parks, corridors of HDB flats and pathways to bus stops.

“They tell me that more people, especially younger Singaporeans, are smoking inspite of the many anti-smoking measures,” she said. Smoking is currently disallowed in many indoor locations and outdoor places such as bus stops, playgrounds and exercise areas and non-airconditioned factories and offices, amongst others.

To raise standards of public cleanliness and hygiene, the Government will be enhancing three main areas. First, MEWR will be “strengthening the cleansing regime” and improve its service standards and accountability to the public.

Public cleanliness, however, will need to be sustained by the “combined efforts” of both Government and the community, the ministry stressed. In addition, it will review noise standards and guidelines to protect public health and minimise nuisance.

Second, to stem the incidence of vector breeding – such as the Aedes mosquito which causes dengue fever – the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) ground officers will complement ongoing efforts with greater community engagement.

“We aim to raise awareness within the community of simple steps to reduce the likelihood of breeding sites and break the further transmission of the dengue virus,” said the ministry.

Third, the NEA will uphold the robustness of the regulatory and inspection regime for food operators to ensure stringent levels of food hygiene are maintained.

As for flood protection, the ministry is currently doing an in-depth review of current measures and will continue to enhance the drainage system.

To get businesses ready for the Energy Conservation Act when it comes into effect in 2013, large energy users will be required to formulate energy efficiency improvement plans and appoint energy managers and submit energy consumption data.

– Today Online

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