Friday, September 25, 2009

Smoking in Singapore - time to stamp it out altogether?

The CNN recently highlighted some studies linking a fall in heart attack rates to the introduction of smoking bans in public places. Nothing really new.... it's kinda intuitive and has been shown in a number of previous studies.

Smoking is really another form of drug abuse. We've had smoking bans in public places for some time already, and have already begun to take it for granted to the extent when we visit countries without such bans, we wonder why they cannot do it.

In Singapore smoking is regulated by the HSA through the enforcement of the Smoking Act (no relation to the smoking gun!) and they regulate primarily(another quirky part of our history) the advertising and sale of tobacco. The control of smoking activities however is coordinated by the Health Promotion Board in partnership with the HSA (another quirky arrangement), through the National Smoking Control Programme.

"The NSCP aims to reduce smoking prevalence in Singapore through the following measures:

  • Preventing the initiation of smoking among young people
  • Educating, motivating and assisting smokers to quit smoking
  • Promoting a climate conducive for non-smokers to remain free from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco"
All in all they have done a pretty good job, it seems that they may have hit a wall of sorts. Smoking rates, after hitting a nadir in 2004 seems to have turned around and have begun to creep up again.

HPB reports:
"Results from the National Health Surveillance Survey 2007 showed that the smoking rate among daily smokers aged 18-69 years increased slightly from 12.6% in 2004 to 13.6% in 2007. Compared to other age groups, the smoking rate was highest among young adults aged 18-29 years, from 12.3% in 2004 to 17.2% in 2007; in males the increase was from 18.2% to 25.4% and for females it was 6.6% to 9.1%."

My take on this is that it's time to really tighten the screws. Smoking is really an addiction. And time and time again we can see that the only effective way to reduce smoking is through legislation. A ban in public places was effective up to a point. After hitting the wall, it should be clear that if we are to reduce (no, not reduce but perhaps just to prevent the prevalence from going back up again) the prevalence of smoking, is to ban it completely. I say treat it as a drug of abuse, a problem of addiciton. Because that is what it is. A total ban. Move it into the domain of the CNB (Central Narcotic Bureau). Only then can we eliminate it from our society.

Too aggressive? Perhaps. But smoking comes with a considerable social and economic cost. It's time to put a stop to it.


Anonymous said...


blacktag said...

Yes, let's ban alcohol at the same time, and while we're at it, we should make World of Warcraft wrong.

Could you stop nannying us please?