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Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for the Environment and
Water Resources (a) what is the standard protocol for NEA to handle feedback
about smokers smoking in prohibited areas; and (b) where there is no pictorial
evidence and NEA is unable to catch the culprit red-handed, what other measures
are taken to ensure that culprits will be apprehended especially those who have
had multiple reports made against them in residential areas.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the progress of
efforts to keep our neighbourhood spaces smoke-free; (b) whether banning
smoking in more designated areas have resulted in improving a smoke-free
environment; (c) whether operators and premise managers are doing their part to
stop patrons and visitors from smoking in prohibited areas; and (d) whether
there are adequate enforcement resources and penalties to stop smokers who
disregard the prohibitions imposed by NEA.
The Government has over the years progressively extended the
smoking prohibition to more public places, to protect more people from the
harmful effects of passive tobacco smoke. Such places include the common areas
of housing estates such as void decks, fitness corners, and playgrounds, as
well as sheltered pedestrian walkways and bus stops. In 2016, the prohibition
was further extended to neighbourhood and reservoir parks. Today, smoking is
disallowed in more than 32,000 places and progress has been made towards our
vision of a smoke-free and conducive living environment.
2 Generally, smokers appreciate the reasons
behind these restrictions and most comply willingly. However, there is a minority
who do not, and this is where the concerted efforts of various stakeholders can
make a difference. When someone we know – be it a family member or a friend – lights
up where he or she should not, we ought to remind them to spare a thought for
those around. Such social cues are important for signalling and entrenching the
positive social norms that smokers should abide by.
3 Operators and managers of smoking-prohibited
premises have a statutory responsibility to stop patrons from smoking and
request them to leave if they refuse. Most managers are aware of the important
role they play in safeguarding the health of their non-smoking patrons. Managers
who fail to discharge their duties will be liable for a maximum fine of $2,000
4 Regarding the Member’s question about the
National Environment Agency’s (NEA) protocol in responding to feedback on
unlawful smoking, NEA upon receiving such feedback, will engage the manager of
the relevant smoking-prohibited premises to ensure that signs are prominently
displayed to remind smokers of the prohibition, and to remove any misleading
cues such as litter bins fitted with ashtrays.
5 If the complaints persist, NEA will undertake further investigations by contacting the
complainant and other witnesses for additional information. NEA may also obtain
video footage from nearby CCTVs if available. If the alleged offender is identified, NEA will interview
the person to ascertain culpability. A summons may then be issued if there is
evidence that an offence had been committed. Errant smokers can face
fines of up to $1,000 upon conviction.
6 All said, it is not possible for the NEA
to monitor every one of the 32,000 smoking-prohibited places at all times. Residents
who come across people smoking in prohibited areas can submit feedback,
including details of the incident, to NEA through the myENV mobile application,
and NEA’s hotline and website. Such information can provide useful leads for us
to target areas where breaches of the smoking prohibition occur repeatedly.
7 While enforcement of the smoking
prohibition will continue, it is not the panacea to
curbing inconsiderate smoking. Our hope is for smokers to be mindful of the potential
harm they may cause others, and not light up in places where smoking is
prohibited. The families and friends of smokers, as well as the general public
can also help reinforce positive social norms through reminders. Ultimately, we
would like to help smokers kick the habit for the benefit of their own health,
their loved ones, and the community.
Last updated: 07 Aug 2018
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