22 Oct 2005

Smoking Ban?

Senior Minister of State for Health Balaji Sadasivan says a complete ban on smoking in Singapore has to be considered carefully as it may cause unintended problems.He was responding to recent calls for such a ban when he spoke at the 7th Singapore Stroke Conference.To help stub out the smoking habit, the government has smoking cessation programmes and made cigarettes more expensive and unavailable to the young.Just recently, smoking in public areas like bus interchanges and swimming complexes was banned.Now, there are calls for a complete ban -- from people like neurologist Dr Ramani.He said up to a quarter of all strokes are caused by smoking - and stroke is Singapore's fourth leading cause of death.But Dr Balaji said a total ban raises other issues.He said: "A total ban on cigarettes may cause unintended problems. Banning may increase the illegal trade and smuggling of cigarettes, as happened to alcohol during the prohibition in the US."Tourists may shy away from coming to Singapore. Hence, a total ban on cigarettes in Singapore is a measure which we will have to consider very carefully."Although he hasn't ruled it out for now, the Ministry will be continuing its anti-smoking efforts."I hear Dr Balaji's comments. While I am a little disappointed that we are not going to ban it straight away, I am happy the Ministry is considering it. I think we are in sync," said Dr Ramani, a neurologist at the National Neuroscience Institute.In fact, Dr Balaji said that in time to come, it might not even be necessary to have a smoking ban as the Ministry aims to cut down the number of new smokers to zero.He did not give a time frame for this.The Ministry also aims to reduce the number of existing smokers.

Channelnewsasia.com

As a non-smoker, I am personally in total favour of banning cigarettes, though I can already hear the howls of outrage from smokers all over Singapore. The smoking issue can be rather tricky for nations to handle. New Delhi has given out a controversial ban on depiction of smoking in films, for example, which even I have protest on grounds of freedom of expression, though I am against films which glamourise smoking.

On one hand is the proven facts about what smoking does to you, and not to mention what it does to others around you. On the other hand is things like freedom of choice, and obviously, the revenue from tobacco. Personally, I don't think the real reason that smoking is not banned yet is because of tourists, or the possiblity of underground smuggling, but the loss of revenue from tobacco, especially considering the raised price of packets.

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7 comments:

soci said...

As a smoker of about 10 a day I feel that any all out ban of coffin nails would simply lead to a criminalisation of large portions of the public.

Smacks of the nanny state. The loss of revenue would also have to be reclaimed from somewhere else.

pleinelune said...

Well I disagree with the "gahmen" on MANY counts, but their anti-smoking agenda is not one of them. I don't see why the non-smoking population has to suffer because of inconsiderate smokers. But that's just my point of view - i am sure the smokers want to protect their interests, even if it kills them.

soci said...

Isn't smoking inside public buildings already banned, except for pubs. Unless you purposel hang around with smokers outside buildings I really don't see how you can come into contact with smokers. At home ?

Encouraging people to stop smoking is a noble idea, but the potential of locking a smoker in prision or being fined a large amount of money while getting a criminal record, for something that the government has allowed and profited from for many years is another matter.

pleinelune said...

I am not just talking about me here. I am speaking for the family, especially children of smokers, who suffer for years because of their bad habit. Imagine how diseased a child would be if he had to breathe in his mother's smoke from pregnancy all the way to adulthood. I don't purposely hang around smokers, but I still have had to breathe in a fair amount of smoke in public places. Perhaps as a smoker, you don't realise how much.

I don't think the smoker is going to be jailed - that's too much. I wouldn't envision a criminal record either. Fined money, yes, and it wouldn't be adequate payment for the lungs he has harmed, and the environment he has polluted. Just because something has been allowed in the past, doesn't mean it is permissible to let it continue when it is clearly harmful.

At any rate, this is not something we can debate out. You and I have different views on this, due to our personal habits or lack thereof. I for one, grew up with absolute disdain and contempt for all addictive substances such as drugs, alchohol and cigarettes (and even caffeine), partly due to my culture. I wouldn't drink even if I go to a club. You've got different views. :)

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Anonymous said...

Smoking and health.

I would agree that smoking is bad for one's health but I would not agree that it is a major cause of heart attacks. No-one can really prove this. On alot of American websites, the experts tell us that alcohol and over eating and stress is a major cause. My friend had a stroke simply because he was too engrossed from gambling in a casino in Macau.

Moses Koh said...

at the end of day, every one has a choice. i helped many people to quit, but i'm perfectly ok when surrounded by smokers. i dun tell them what to do, cos that's that choice, and i respect that.