Smoke Free Singapore ? The Case for A Ban on Public Smoking

Despite it’s existing stringent laws regarding public smoking, Singapore can benefit greatly if it made a complete ban on public smoking. By making a complete ban on public smoking Singapore would be joining other cities around the world that have said enough it enough with polluted air and preventable health problems. A smoke-free Singapore would be seen as an attractive, progressive city, worth visiting, worth living in and for businesses, worth investing in. The arguments against a ban on public smoking are purely reactionary and when scrutinized appear to simply go up in smoke.

  • Second Hand Smoke Kills
    In so many ways Singapore is a great walking city. It has a lot nice shops, libraries and coffee shops. It is a great shame that virtually every street is plagued by people simply puffing away with, in many cases, not a care in the world that they are causing great public harm. Passive smokers, i.e. people who inhale second hand smoke, suffer the ill-health effects similar to those who smoke regularly. People who inhale second hand smoke on a regular basis run an increased risk of suffering from lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Recently two Canadian provinces enforced a strict smoking ban over the entire city in wake of the death of waitress and anti-smoking advocate Heather Crowe. Crowe had worked for many years as a waitress and had been exposed to second hand smoke on a regular basis. In an extraordinary case she filed a claim with the local safety and insurance board and won. How many young Singaporeans now working in Singapore ’s busy nightspots will have a fate similar to Crowe.

  • Smoking Hurts the Economy
    A smoke-free Singapore would help reduce the amount of money lost to the country’s economy from healthcare costs, absenteeism and loss of productivity. A 1997 study showed that the cost to the Singapore economy from these smoking effects was between $700 and $800 million annually. On average about seven people a day die in Singapore from smoking related illnesses. Around the world smoking is the second major cause of death and the single largest cause of preventable death.

  • A Smoking Ban Will Improve the Economy
    Although concern will be great as to the effects on the Singapore economy and compliance with the smoke-free regulation, studies have shown that smoke-free cities can be successful in both areas. A 2004 study on the smoke-free legislation on New York , contrary to the popular notion that smoke-free industries lose money, showed that the hospitality industry income of that city had actually increased by some 8.7%. The hospitality economy increased it’s base by added some 234 new (smoke-free) bars, creating some 10,600 new jobs. As for compliance with the smoking ban one need look no further than Ireland, which introduced a ban on smoking in every workplace, including pubs, restaurants, fishing boats and company cars. A March 2006 study showed a compliancy rate of almost 95%

With all that we know now regarding smoking it is high time for Singapore to join the other cities around the world who have banned public smoking. A smoke-free Singapore would be a great way to tell the rest of the world that we are changing for the better and care about the well being of our inhabitants.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of

Written by:
Stephen O’ Rourke