20 January 2018
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'No smoking' signs go up as penalties get stiffer

Straits Times
05 Jan 2018
Felicia Choo

772 smokers warned during 3-month grace period; now, those caught face up to $10k fine

Verbal warnings were given to 772 smokers who lit up near schools and other areas prohibited under new rules that came into force late last year but the crackdown is getting tougher.

The National Environment Agency took an advisory approach in the first three months after the laws kicked in on Oct 1 to allow puffers time to make the transition to the stricter regime.

But that softly-softly approach changed on Jan 1, when far more severe penalties took effect. People caught smoking in a prohibited place now face a fine of up to $1,000.

The new rules outlaw smoking within 5m of public places. They include outdoor areas of universities and within the compounds of private institutions, except for designated smoking areas.

The rules also ban smoking within a 5m radius of kindergartens, childcare centres, primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education campuses.

And private-hire car drivers and passengers cannot light up, nor can passengers in trishaws and excursion buses.

It is already illegal for trishaw riders and excursion bus drivers to smoke under the Road Traffic Act.

The rules extend what are already extensive smoking bans.

Lighting up is now prohibited in more than 32,000 premises and locations, such as shopping malls, office premises, hospitals, schools, parks, bus stops and common areas of residential buildings.

Schools told The Straits Times that while they have taken measures to tell people not to smoke in light of the latest rules, many are already smoke-free campuses.

Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore (NUS) are all smoke-free campuses.

Singapore Poly students who are caught smoking on campus face a school-administered penalty of $50 and need to enrol in a smoking cessation programme conducted by nurses from the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

Temasek Poly worked with the HPB to roll out the Student Health Advisor scheme, which includes smoking cessation programmes conducted by HPB nurses.

The programme, which started in the poly in April 2015, also focuses on health promotion and lifestyle counselling.

"We also run daily reminders on our digital screens on campus, in addition to sending out e-mails to students each term," said a Temasek Poly spokesman.

NUS organises smoking cessation workshops and outreach activities to encourage individuals to quit smoking, in addition to the "no smoking" signs, publicity posters and banners that have been put up.

But some smokers question whether the ban is really effective.

Third-year poly student Shannae Lim, 20, thinks it has made students "a little bit more cautious" but is not a deterrent.

"It was a bit inconvenient at first, but we just go to a place a little further from school, like the coffee shop," said Ms Lim, who smokes about half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.