Saturday, 6 June 2015

[Today] Wider smoking ban in S’pore is imperative

I echo the writer’s sentiments in “Youth must know link between smoking, disease” (June 4).
Smoking causes a myriad of problems for an individual, his loved ones, and members of the public.
Moreover, second-hand smoke is hazardous, containing more nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia and benzopyrene than the smoke inhaled by the smoker.
It aggravates allergies, triggers asthma attacks and migraines, and increases vulnerability to colds and other respiratory infections.
Separate smoking areas, such as a designated room, are hardly effective because of the risks associated with third-hand smoke — the residual chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke, which react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix.
Besides health problems, social issues develop together with cigarette addiction. Cigarettes burn a hole in people’s pockets, which compromises their families’ economic well-being and may even contribute to income inequality.
A parent’s smoking habit may also create an unsafe home environment, where the urge to smoke may override familial duties or influence children to start the habit themselves.
Hence, besides health education in schools and workplace talks on preventing or kicking the habit, a wider smoking ban is imperative.
This can be done by reducing the number of cigarette suppliers here, if not eradicating supply, and by restricting the number of places where smoking is allowed. For example, smoking should be illegal in public places such as car parks, outside shopping centres, and park connectors.
Even though cigarette taxes were raised last year, such tax increments would hardly deter smokers because of the addiction. Smoking prevention centres or help services should be more widely available.
Let us work towards creating a smoke-free Singapore, and may the irony of allowing the most preventable cause of death be resolved.