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Parliament Q&A

Written Reply by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli, to Parliamentary Question on Monitoring Air Quality in Households Affected by Prolonged Second-hand Smoke on 14 January 2019

Question:

 Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether the Ministry will consider conducting a pilot study using Sidepak and/or Dylos monitors and passive nicotine dosimeters to monitor the air quality in homes affected by prolonged second-hand smoke from their neighbours and where mediation between both parties has not been successful.

Reply by Minister Masagos Zulkifli:

SidePak and Dylos monitors are used to measure ambient PM2.5 levels. However, monitoring ambient PM2.5 levels indoors does not specifically identify smoking activity, as sources of PM2.5 can be attributed to other activities at home such as cooking and the burning of incense. Passive nicotine dosimeters measure airborne nicotine, a specific indicator of second-hand tobacco smoke, but are unable to provide real-time results. Hence, while such measuring devices are promising, they require further development before they can be used as good indicators of exposure to second-hand smoke. There are currently no plans for a study using such devices. We will continue to review the use of relevant technology for air quality monitoring.

2 The law does not prohibit smoking in residential homes as these are private spaces. Nonetheless, we recognise that second-hand smoke from residential premises can waft into neighbours’ homes. We encourage smokers to be socially responsible and considerate when smoking, so as not to affect their neighbours.

3 Residents who are affected by second-hand smoke from their neighbours’ residences are encouraged to discuss and resolve the issue amicably or seek assistance from the Community Mediation Centre (CMC). As a last resort, aggrieved parties can file a case with the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT). The CDRT have the power to order parties to attend compulsory mediation in the Courts or at the CMC, to attend counselling, or to fix the case for hearing by the Courts. 

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