Singapore

Tougher penalties kick in for those who flout smoking rules

Verbal warnings were given to 772 smokers who lit up near schools and other areas prohibited under new rules that came into force late last year, but the crackdown is getting tougher.

The National Environment Agency took an advisory approach in the first three months after the laws kicked in on Oct 1 to allow smokers time to make the transition to the stricter regime. But that softly-softly approach changed on Jan 1, when far more severe penalties took effect.

People caught smoking in a prohibited place now face a fine of up to $1,000.

The new rules outlaw smoking within 5m of public places.

They include outdoor areas of universities and within the compounds of private institutions, except for designated smoking areas.

The rules also ban smoking within a 5m radius of kindergartens, childcare centres, primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education campuses.

TRISHAWS

Private-hire car drivers and passengers cannot light up, nor can passengers in trishaws and excursion buses.

Lighting up is now prohibited at more than 32,000 premises and locations, such as shopping malls, offices, hospitals, schools, parks, bus stops and common areas of residential buildings.

Schools told The Straits Times that while they have taken measures to tell people not to smoke in light of the latest rules, many are already smoke-free campuses.

Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore are all smoke-free campuses.

But some smokers question whether the ban is really effective.

Third-year polytechnic student Shannae Lim, 20, thinks it has made students "a little bit more cautious" but is not a deterrent.

"It was a bit inconvenient at first, but we just go to a place a little further from school, like the coffee shop," said Ms Lim, who smokes about half a pack of cigarettes a day.

MEDICAL & HEALTH