Chances are – given its premises and outreach efforts – you would have heard about the Tobacco-Free Singapore campaign (here), and the team’s unique proposal to “deny access to tobacco for Singaporeans born after 2000”. As the name of the campaign suggests, the ultimate goal is to progressively phase out smoking in Singapore, because it is recognised that the benefits associated with this activity are far and few between.
The recommendation is a novel one, and I believe that its justifications do resonate with a number of Singaporeans – including me – who are cognisant of the ramifications associated with tobacco usage. Nonetheless, when I was reading through the entire proposal on the website, I picked up some considerations that probably required further clarification. I did try to get in contact with the team via FaceBook; unfortunately, to no avail.
Thinking About Tobacco-Free Singapore
– On tourism (beyond the FAQ): in the hypothetical scenario when the country has reached the point when no Singaporean is legally allowed to smoke, would it mean smoking would be completely banned? If so, would – or how would – tourists be affected? Would it be possible to gauge if, overall, more individuals would be attracted to visit or come to Singapore?
– Along the same tangent as the aforementioned, would the team foresee a mass expression of dissatisfaction by affected Singaporeans, who might perceive the ban to be discriminatory and unfair? How can the ban be rationalised to a broader audience (especially those who are extremely opposed to the idea, in this sense, to communicate its intentions and benefits?
– The move is certainly well-intentioned, and less radical than an immediate ban. To complement such a proposal, are there additional steps that could be undertaken by the administration (beyond bans in particular areas) to reduce smoking rates in Singapore?
– Could the ban be experimented with and introduced in a smaller community; for instance, the military (where I presume smoking is ubiquitous)? Soldiers who enlist after a certain year would not be allowed to smoke, and those who might have an addiction would be encouraged to go through a rehabilitation programme. Would this be feasible?
– What is the current progress with policy-makers? The campaign has gotten strong support from the ground, so what would be the next steps?
From my perspective, the economic factors – which would be strongly argued for by tobacco companies – remain the biggest points against this proposal. I am not sure how the relevant ministries would address or consider such a proposition (the ban per se), or whether they would be willing to take into account its multitude of benefits in the long term. Still, I think a broader discussion or general discourse can do no harm.