Updated: 05/21/2014 01:32

Health Promotion Board is looking into reviewing the minimum age to buy cigarettes



Health Promotion Board is looking into reviewing the minimum age to buy cigarettes

The Health Promotion Board or HPB is studying the possibility of raising the minimum age for smokers here from 18 to 21. 

Recently, New York raised the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. 

Some smokers and non-smokers here have mixed views about doing the same in Singapore. 

"Cigarette is addiction. So no matter what, it will not discourage majority of the smokers because it's part of life. Even secondary school kids are smoking, so I think it's best to increase the age. Good to raise otherwise juvenile will not know the effects of cigarettes. They will have better perception of the harm that it may cause in long term. Useless to raise the age. Unless have strict regulation and impose heavy fine for those who sell cigarettes to the minor."

Deputy Director of Substance Abuse at HPB, Vasuki Utravathy says they have many considerations to bear in mind before actually changing the law. 

"Would it actually reduce initiation for those who are of legal age, or of the higher legal age. Other than that, it would be more of enforcement - is it possible to go around enforcing if it's a higher legal age, or are we driving the issue further underground. These are the kind of things we have to think about." 

Ms Vasuki adds that HPB is monitoring Australia's efforts on plain packaging for cigarettes. 

It's also looking at having new sets of graphic health warning labels on cigarette packaging in the next two to three years. 

-By Lim Jia Qi

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