Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 06/01/2013 22:05 | By Channel NewsAsia

HPB launches public consultation exercise on tobacco control measures

HPB launches public consultation exercise on tobacco control measures

HPB launches public consultation exercise on tobacco control measures

SINGAPORE: Should shops be banned from openly displaying cigarettes?

The Health Promotion Board wants the public's views on what should be done to lower smoking rates in Singapore. While its public consultation exercise was launched on Saturday, some smokers have taken a further step forward -- by pledging to quit in 28 days.

About three in 10 employees working in hotels are smokers, giving the industry the dubious honour of having the highest percentage of smokers in Singapore. However, this may soon change.

Seven hotels have committed to having only smoke-free rooms, while encouraging their employees to quit.

At Capri, a hotel in Changi, 13 of its 40 smoking staff have pledged to stop smoking for 28 days -- and they are relying on peer pressure to keep this going.

35-year-old Alex Chong is the F&B manager of Capri and he has been a smoker for more than 20 years. He said: "It's going to be like: 'I'm going to be keeping a watch on you, where're you going.' We'll question where the staff will be going, heading, et cetera. And people will start asking me as well.

"That will be a reminder for us not to smoke or not to take a smoke break at all. It's not just myself, but as a team, as an effort in the hotel itself, everyone will quit smoking once and for all."

The 'I Quit 28-Day Countdown' is HPB's new challenge for smokers -- and 1,624 of them have pledged to do so. Based on findings, those who stay smoke-free for 28 days are five times more likely to quit for good.

The HPB is also working with partners like the Singapore National Employers Federation to get the message out.

Zee Yoong Kang, CEO of the Health Promotion Board, said: "We find that the workplace seems to be a major place for us to focus on, not just because people spend most of their time in the workplace, but also because through employers, we have established channels to work coherent programmes to reach out to the people that we need to help."

At 14.3 per cent, Singapore has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world. However, authorities are hoping to bring this to under 10 per cent by 2020.

One idea is to prevent shops from displaying tobacco products openly -- to keep cigarettes out of sight, out of mind. Another idea is to extend the smoking ban in public places.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "Before we introduce a new legislation, we would like to invite the public to share with us their views, their concerns -- but this also affects many people, not just the smokers, the non-smokers as well, as well as the retail outlets.

"We are quite happy to get their feedback so that we are fully aware of the implications, and so that we can also calibrate and fine-tune our policy as well as our implementation plan."

Mr Gan said he is concerned about the rising trend of smoking among the younger generation, adding that the authorities will explore other ways to step up tobacco control.

The public can give their feedback at - CNA/ac

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