SINGAPORE: The extended smoking ban in public areas kicked in on Tuesday.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will step up spot checks by about 70 per cent after three months, which is some 8,000 additional hours per month.
In a spot check at Toa Payoh MRT station on Tuesday, seven smokers were caught in an hour for smoking where they were not supposed to.
Smokers are now not allowed to light up at the common areas of all residential buildings, covered linkways and walkways, overhead pedestrian bridges, as well as within a five—metre radius of bus shelters.
For the first three months of the new ban, the NEA said it will take on a more advisory approach.
But come April 15, first time offenders will be fined S$200, while repeat offenders could be fined as much as S$1,000.
Eileen Yap, a NEA inspector, said: "We realise that the public in general are not aware of such bans and the awareness level is not so high in the beginning, so in these three months, NEA will be advising smokers and we’ll be working with the community in general to create awareness, so that everyone can have cleaner air."
Smokers hope the NEA will exercise some flexibility when it comes to enforcing the ban.
A smoker, who did not reveal his name, said: "We can’t be smoking outside when it’s raining or pouring. So they have to fine tune the balance. They probably have to list down under what circumstance it’s forgivable, or if there is a second chance, or if not they have to find a solution — a sheltered smoking area for example."
Last year, some 4,000 smokers were caught flouting the rules. This is 800 cases, or 17 per cent less than in 2011.
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