Singapore – Smokers have been urged to be considerate and close their doors and windows when indulging in their habit so that the smoke does not go into neighbouring flats.
On Thursday (Dec 3), Facebook user Candice Yeo made a request on the Complaint Singapore page. She said that no one was stopping those who want to smoke at home but they should shut their doors and windows tight.
She said that people smoked at windows and balconies because they did not want the smoke in their homes but it then floated into neighbouring houses.
She hoped that her request would be considered and those who smoke would be considerate enough to shut their windows and doors.
“At the end of the day, some self-awareness and consideration will make everybody happy, and this issue wouldn’t have gone to the Parliament,” said Ms Yeo. She noted that those who encounter such behaviour could email the National Environment Agency (NEA), which would issue a warning or advisory to the smoker.
The issue was brought up by Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng during an adjournment motion on Oct 5. He called the problem of secondhand smoke a “public health concern” that Singapore should address immediately.
Mr Ng called for a ban on residents who smoke near windows or at the balconies of private apartments and HDB flats. Mr Ng and the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Sustainability and the Environment suggested installing cameras to identify individuals who smoke at these areas.
“For years, many residents have reached out to me about their neighbours smoking at balconies and at windows,” said Mr Ng. “Secondhand smoke enters their homes, and they feel helpless about the health risks facing their families.”
He pointed out that those who inhale secondhand smoke were exposed to more chemicals than smokers. “Sidestream smoke, the main component in secondhand smoke, is four times more toxic than the smoke that a smoker inhales from the cigarette. I am especially concerned about how secondhand smoke especially affects the vulnerable among us,” said Mr Ng.
However, such legislation could violate the privacy of residents, highlighted Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor. She added there were some “significant practical challenges” to enforcing the initiative. “Ultimately, mitigating the impact of secondhand smoke requires everyone to play their part,” said Dr Khor.