Thursday, 28 May 2015

[Straits Times] Factor in demographic change when tackling smoking

ON PAPER, Singapore has a shining record of tobacco control policies, regulations and enforcement.
However, the decline in national smoking rate appears to have plateaued in recent years.
The rate of increase of under-age smokers is also murky. We cannot tell if the rise in such smokers caught is the result of better surveillance or if there are more smokers now ("More students caught smoking; schools install detection devices"; Feb 16).
It has not been vigorously demonstrated that the decline in smoking rate has been due to smoking control policies.
In fact, over a long period of 20 to 30 years, the fall in the number of smokers could, in no small measure, be attributed to the death of large cohorts of old folk who smoked more.
Demographic factors such as this could be at play, and we should prevent ourselves from becoming complacent.
There are signs that we are facing a strong upswing in smoking rate among young adults and teens. It is time to take stock of our smoking control efforts and ensure we do not fall behind the curve.
Lim Teck Koon