Parliament Q&A

Written reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Measures to Mitigate Disamenities from Second-Hand Cigarette Smoke in Residential Areas , on 4 September 2020

TOPICS: Cleanliness

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what measures is the Ministry studying to assist individuals who are negatively affected by second-hand cigarette smoke from their neighbours smoking within their HDB flats; and (b) whether the Ministry has studied the effectiveness and receptiveness of bans on residents smoking at their balconies and windows implemented at some condominiums. 

Written Reply by Minister Grace Fu:

1. The issue of smoking is one that requires everyone to play their part. Smokers are encouraged to exercise social responsibility and be mindful of the health of others, and not light up where the smoke will affect others. Families and friends of smokers, as well as the general public, can help reinforce the right social norms.

2. To assist individuals who are affected by second-hand cigarette smoke arising from neighbours smoking in their HDB flats, the National Environment Agency (NEA) works with Town Councils and HDB to advise smokers to be considerate when smoking. Oftentimes, the smoker is unaware that his actions have affected his neighbour and such advisories are sufficient in encouraging the smoker to adjust his behaviour. Community leaders also help to mediate between neighbours, help them empathise with one another’s situation and discuss what adjustments can be made. Affected residents can also seek help from the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which provides mediation service for disputes between neighbours. Trained mediators will facilitate discussions between parties in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable solution. For intractable cases where parties are unable to resolve their disputes, residents can raise the matter to the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal as a last resort.

3. We do not have information on any condominiums that have implemented a ban on residents smoking at their balconies or windows. We are only aware of the case of a condominium that had issued a circular telling residents to refrain from smoking on their balconies and in window areas, which was reported in the press in August 2017. While some residents were supportive, there were also those who argued that the management should not dictate what one can or cannot do in their private spaces. We understand that subsequently, the management did not proceed to ban residents from smoking on their balconies and in window areas.

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