SINGAPORE: From Jul 1, Singapore will ban smoking at three new types of premises, although enforcement will only start in October to give smokers time to adjust.
Smoking will be prohibited at all public parks and gardens managed by the National Parks Board (NParks), PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) sites, and 10 recreational beaches, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE), Sentosa Development Corp (SDC) and several statutory boards in a joint release issued on Monday (Mar 7).
Together, they cover about 100 sites such as Raffles Place Park, East Coast Beach and Tanjong Beach, joining a list of more than 49,000 places where smoking is banned. These include entertainment outlets, shopping malls, bus stops and common areas in residential buildings.
The extension of the smoking prohibition is part of Singapore’s efforts to clamp down on smoking and tackle second-hand tobacco smoke, the authorities said.
Last year, more than 13,000 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited areas. Close to 40 per cent were caught smoking in common areas in Housing Board estates, such as lift lobbies and staircases.
Smoking is already banned in some green spaces such as neighbourhood parks in private and public housing estates, reservoirs and nature reserves.
“This next round of implementation is a progressive development from existing measures intended to protect non-smokers who visit these places for recreational activities,” the press release said.
To give people time to adjust to the rules, those caught smoking in the newly prohibited areas will receive warnings in the first three months after the ban kicks in.
Enforcement will only take effect from Oct 1, with offenders facing a fine of S$200 or up to S$1,000 if convicted in court.
Posters and banners will also be put up at the new sites to remind the public not to smoke in the area.
To help smokers adjust, designated smoking areas will also be provided in some larger regional parks, as well as near the three beaches in Sentosa, the authorities said. NParks said it will assess the need to keep these once visitors adjust to the new rules.
During MSE’s committee of supply debate on Monday, Members of Parliament (MPs) Lim Wee Kiak (PAP-Sembawang), Poh Li San (PAP-Sembawang) and Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) asked if legislation could be introduced to tackle the issue of second-hand smoking in homes.
In response, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor said there were privacy concerns and technological limitations to gathering the evidence required for enforcement.
Dr Khor also pointed out that an ongoing initiative at Nee Soon South, where designated smoking points have been set up, has not resulted in a “sustained reduction” in feedback received since its implementation in 2017.
“Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the effectiveness of (designated smoking points) as localised solutions, even as we work with the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Board to discourage smoking at home,” she said.
HIGHER CLEANING STANDARDS
In another move to safeguard public health, a regime to clean up and disinfect public spaces will be extended to cover more areas that have high footfall or vulnerable occupants.
It will be rolled out progressively to around 2,700 premises such as student care centres, shopping malls, canteens and food courts from Apr 1.
These places will be required to adhere to sector-specific environmental sanitation standards and appoint trained staff to develop and implement a system to ensure cleanliness.
Introduced in July last year, the environmental sanitation regime has already been implemented at 3,700 premises including eldercare facilities, pre-schools and coffee shops.
In a separate release on Monday, the National Environment Agency said affected premises will be informed of the environmental sanitation standards they have to adhere to, and to send appointed staff for required training before implementation.