Smoking ban to be extended to all indoor public places by Jan 2009

The smoking ban will be extended to all indoor public places and some outdoor places by January 2009.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will also step up its enforcement efforts.

Some outdoor places, like playgrounds and exercise areas, will be smoke-free next year.

So too will all indoor public areas such as multi-storey and basement car parks, lift lobbies, non air-con shopping centres and shops.

Many have observed that ash trays demarcate a smoking zone. And so come January 2009, an ash tray at the entrance of Bras Basah Complex will probably no longer be there, as the smoking ban has been extended to include a distance of five metres from the property’s entrance or exit.

Sung Jee Tong, chairman, Bras Basah Complex Merchants‘ Association, said: „Hopefully, we can change all the dustbins to those that are covered. So people do not have the impression that this is a smoking area.“

With more areas becoming smoke-free, NEA will double the number of enforcement officers from 50 to 120, who will now spend 490 man-hours, a 300-man-hour increase.

But during the initial phase, they expect to issue more warnings, rather than fines.

Khoo Seow Poh, Director-General Public Health, NEA, said: „In the first few months, people need to adjust to it. We will always be helping them, giving more advice. And if need be, in situations where people do not cooperate, then enforcement has to come in.

„I guess eventually, smokers will have to go to designated smoking areas to smoke. If most of the public areas are covered under the smoking ban, then smokers will have to go to (designated smoking areas) smoke. And there are also wide open areas outside buildings where smokers can actually go to take their puff.“

The smoking ban will also apply to restaurants and bars in the integrated resorts (IRs).

The NEA has not yet indicated if there is a cap to the amount of smoking areas within the gaming halls.

But it said it will be giving its inputs to the IRs on their house rules.

Meanwhile, Resorts World at Sentosa said it is looking at different options in segregating smoking and non-smoking areas within its casino. – CNA/ms