No ban on makeshift smoking corners but smokers should be 'socially responsible': NEA

NEA added that it has stopped accepting applications for smoking corners at retail food establishments since 2017.

Matthias Ang | January 23, 2024, 12:58 PM



Makeshift smoking points are not prohibited as long as the smoking points are not smoking-prohibited places under the Smoking Regulations.

That was the answer from the National Environment Agency (NEA) which The Straits Times (ST) reported for a story on makeshift smoking points.

According to NEA's website, smoking is prohibited at any area within five metres of ventilation intakes, external windows, openings, entrances, and exits to buildings of commercial, industrial or recreational purposes which are publicly accessible.

However, the NEA said that smokers should be "socially responsible" when smoking at public locations and they should avoid smoking at places where it is prohibited.

Owners of premises should also be "considerate" when they allow makeshift smoking corners to be set up.

The response came in the wake of visits by ST to 12 coffee shops at locations such as Bendemeer, Bedok, Chinatown and Bukit Panjang.

Makeshift smoking corners that were strewn with the litter of cigarette butts and empty cigarette packets were found at almost all of them.

NEA: Stopped accepting applications for smoking corners since 2017

NEA added that smoking is currently prohibited at over 49,000 locations across Singapore, both indoors and outdoors.

It has also stopped accepting applications for smoking corners at retail food establishments since 2017.

Such smoking corners will also be phased out when the licences of these establishments are terminated.

In addition, to limit the impact of second-hand tobacco smoke on non-smokers, smoking corners are usually limited to 20 per cent of such spaces and placed at the "peripheral sections" of outdoor refreshment areas.

NEA also said that its officers carry out inspections and take enforcement action against errant smokers, including for littering.

In 2023, over 14,600 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited locations, the agency added.

Smoking is still allowed however, at locations such as open spaces in residential and town centres, and along uncovered walkways, with the exception of the Orchard Road, which has been designated as a No Smoking Zone.

Why did ST visit 12 coffee shops to find makeshift smoking corners?

The visit by ST to multiple coffee shops followed a Facebook post complaining about a makeshift smoking corner that had been set up at a coffee shop along Upper Serangoon Crescent.

The post was uploaded to the Facebook group Complaint Singapore and showed people sitting on chairs set up outside the coffee shop while smoking.

One photo also showed cigarette butts that had been thrown on the ground.

ST reported that the makeshift corner was still there when it visited the coffee shop on Jan. 3.

A notice had also been put up by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council warning against obstructing the fire engine access route with the chairs.

In response to ST's queries, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that no violations of fire safety had been found at the location.

Top photos by Dennis Tan via Complaint Singapore/Facebook