Words: Singapore; on smoking bans and areas


As many of you may now know, the smoking blanket ban craze that the authorities have put out this January have extended to include HDB staircases and void decks as well as a host of other locations which can be found here.

in this post I will attempt to deliberate the period and cons of such a blanket ban in Singapore and perhaps a better alternative to the ban.

As I was discussing recently with a friend of mine, visakan, these smoking bans may actually make smokers more irresponsible. This is due to the fact that smokers are going to need to smoke. The ban actually stops smokers from smoking in certain public areas. This creates a problems

The problems:
Enforcement of such bans are difficult to carry out. I do not know the exact number of NEA officers employed however it is possible to estimate that (disclaimer: this is a rough estimate) it is about 400 people including the sub-contracted Cisco officers. If each officer is paid 2000sgd per month; a reasonable figure, that amounts to 800,000 per month and 9.6 mil a year just spent on enforcement units. This is a Ludacris amount when you consider that 400 officers cannot possibly enforce the blanket ban which creates a hit and miss strategy, i.e unfair judgement.

The simple and elegant solution:
Instead of creating blanket bans and having a large amount of enforcement, the welfare of the entire community, smokers and non-smokers alike stands to benefit from an increase in smoking areas. Containment is better than condemnation. Singapore has red light districts to contain the problem of prostitution so why can’t we have smoking areas in convenient locations around so that the smoking problem can be contained? This way enforcement can be lowered and smoking areas are one-off costs that would last longer. Besides that are many air filtration systems and technologies available to reduce the smoke percentage in the air in smoking areas.

Bottom line, smokers are not bad, irresponsible people, we will use the smoking areas if presented the chance and if the smoking areas are made accessible. So hell? Why not?