MPs raise banning smoking in one's own HDB flat

They say smoking by the window is a problem for non-smoking neighbours.

Kayla Wong | September 11, 2018, 12:49 AM

Members of Parliament in Singapore want to curb smoking in one's own homes.

The MPs were responding to amendments passed by Parliament to the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act on Monday, Sept. 10, which would allow the government to set aside more no-smoking zones and give National Environment Agency (NEA) officers more enforcement powers.

MPs said more can be done to protect residents from secondhand smoke in their own homes, reported Channel NewsAsia.

Protecting people from secondhand smoke in their own homes

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng said while the government is "doing a lot to protect people from secondhand smoke in public places", more has to be done to "protect people from secondhand smoke in their own homes".

He also said many of his residents have raised their concerns regarding secondhand smoke from their neighbours who smoke at their windows or balconies, adding that these residents could only escape the situation if the smokers move out altogether.

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam also said "there was little that could be done" other than advising neighbours who smoke to stop smoking at the window.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chia Shi-Lu, who is also a surgeon, cited health concerns associated with breathing in secondhand smoke too.

More conflicts between smokers & non-smokers

In addition, conflicts between smokers and non-smokers living in HDB flats are "increasingly on the rise", said Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who also expressed her disappointment that "residential homes remain out of the authorities' regulation when it comes to smoking".

She even suggested that Singapore should look into restricting tobacco sales and increase taxes on cigarettes, so the funds can be used for programmes that help smokers quit smoking.

What can the government do?

Possible measures raised by the MPs include:

  • prohibiting smoking in a private home at a window or door that is within five metres of a neighbour's windows and doors
  • imposing penalties on residents if they expel secondhand smoke out from their homes
  • banning smoking in HDB flats while setting up smoking areas in near each HDB block

The MPs also recognise the different interests involved with both parties -- while smokers ask non-smokers for their understanding, non-smokers want to protect themselves and their family members.


Smoking in private homes out of government's control

In response to the MPs' proposals, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said the government must be mindful that "not everyone would support the view that the government should intrude into one's private space on the issue of smoking".

She added that an "intrusive regulatory approach to tackling neighbourly issues" could even harm "community harmony and ownership".

Previously, she said in Parliament in February that smoking within private homes is out of the government's jurisdiction, adding that they advise affected residents to "have a discussion" with their neighbours "to try and resolve [conflicts] amicably".

She urged all smokers to be "considerate" and not "negatively affect others" with their smoking.

Top image via Channel NewsAsia


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