Singaporean smokers, sometimes, you feel discriminated against, don’t you?
You have to smoke under the hot sun instead of comfortably under a shelter. And if it rains, you’d need to grab an umbrella and stand under the rain to take five.
In Singapore, smoking is a touchy subject. Especially since the country’s so small and our people, so many.
Plus, smoking is a habit that not only causes harm to the smokers themselves but innocent third parties as well.
So it’s no wonder that there’s friction between the two groups (smokers and non-smokers) and smokers feel discriminated against.
It’s well-known that the Singapore government is trying to make our country a smoke-free nation.
From raising the taxes on cigarettes to raising the minimum age to legally smoke, you cannot fault them for trying to keep their people healthy.
But the latest proposal about smoking might just make smokers feel even more unwelcome in their own home. Literally.
MPs Complaining About Second-Hand Smoke in Homes
The latest update about the smoking issue is this: MPs want the government to curb smoking at home.
According to them, the secondhand smoke wafting to neighbours’ homes creates a hazardous nuisance to people who don’t smoke.
After all, it has been proven that secondhand smoke is way more harmful than firsthand smoke.
Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng asked, “We’re doing a lot to protect people from secondhand smoke in public areas. What are we doing to protect people from secondhand smoke in their own homes?”
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP and surgeon Chia Shi-Lu said that he had received “numerous complaints from residents” about secondhand smoke travelling into their homes.
With the new HDB estates’ units placed so close to one another, a neighbour smoking at the window will lead to secondhand smoke travelling into their neighbours’ home.
And the only way they can solve the problem, he said, is to move out.
Which is unfair.
“Families with vulnerable young children and elderly members are particularly concerned.”
MPs’ Proposals For Curbing Smokers at Home
The MPs felt that simply asking and encouraging smokers to curb their smoking at home isn’t an ideal solution.
It’ll just stop for a couple of weeks, then everything starts all over again.
Here’s what they proposed instead: make it into a law.
In private homes, smokers are not allowed to smoke at a window or door that’s within 5 metres of their neighbour’s.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira suggested that if smokers want to smoke at home, they can.
But they are responsible for ensuring that no cigarette smoke in their homes escapes. They have to close the windows and doors, and they are not allowed to be standing near the windows, doors or corridors to smoke.
Should they fail to keep their smoke in the home, they’re considered to have broken the law.
Dr Chia, on the other hand, just asked that the government ban smokers from smoking at home. Instead, set up smoking points near each HDB block.
Smokers, now, before you’re pissed at yet another “unfair” discriminatory move, hear what the government has to say first.
Government: Sorry, We Can’t Do That
Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor responded to the MPs’ suggestions.
She said that homes are private spaces and not everyone will support the Government taking up such an invasive role in the war against cigarettes.
Suppose that the law takes effect, what this means is that the government has to investigate and enforce their rules in people’s homes.
And things could get bad real fast.
As for the suggestion of setting up smoking points near HDB blocks, children and youths who spend a lot of time in their estates might come to view smoking cigarettes as something normal.
(Article continues below) Xing Xing is a 34-year-old Singaporean lady who decides to meet up with an online friend she found in Facebook. But it turns out that he’s not what he seems to be: Prepare boxes of tissue and watch the saddest Singapore Facebook love story here:
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So What Can Be Done?
Dr Khor said one thing that makes a lot of sense: A community is all about give-and-take.
If you have such a problem, have you tried talking to your neighbour about it? Just like you, they might have (or will have) kids in the future.
Talk to them nicely and explain why you’d appreciate it if they can bring their smoking habit to the void deck far away from your home.
Like reckless e-bike riders, the reputation of a smoker in Singapore is spoilt by a few black sheeps.
They’re not all sunnufagun. There are plenty more who can and will understand where you’re coming from and try to stop inconveniencing you.
Try it for yourself next time, who knows, you could be pleasantly surprised.
And smokers, if you don’t want the government to step in, then it might be time to be a bit more considerate about your surroundings. #JustSaying
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