Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Disamenities from Secondhand Smoke by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Disamenities from Secondhand Smoke
Mr Shawn Huang Wei Zhong: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what are the further measures to be considered in 2021 to ensure that disamenities such as secondhand cigarette smoke that causes long-term medical problems does not affect other homeowners who are non-smokers in their own homes.
The Government takes a multi-pronged approach to address the disamenities from secondhand cigarette smoke.
To tackle smoking at prohibited residential areas, the National Environment Agency (NEA) works with government agencies, Town Councils and community leaders to display visual reminders to remind smokers to be considerate and entrench positive social norms. Where feedback on unlawful smoking persists, NEA steps up surveillance and enforcement operations at the affected block. Since January 2019, for smoking offences in corridors, NEA has enhanced its surveillance capability with the use of thermal cameras which can detect objects emitting high heat and capture images of the smoking offence.
On the issue of smoking in homes affecting neighbouring units, the Government is working with the community to adopt a three-pronged approach: (a) engender greater social responsibility, (b) facilitate productive conversations between neighbours and (c) enhance the dispute resolution process to better address disputes arising from smoking in homes. For example, NEA has collaborated with the Housing Development Board (HDB), Health Promotion Board (HPB), Municipal Services Office (MSO), and Town Councils to develop and issue joint advisories to units where feedback on tobacco smoke is received. The advisory urges smokers to be considerate to their family members and neighbours, as well as advises them on the smoking cessation helplines available. We will continue to encourage and support ground-up efforts by community organisations and the grassroots to manage feedback on smoking in homes. In addition, NEA, as part of an inter-agency committee, is working with other agencies to study how community disputes including secondhand smoke in homes can be better addressed under the Community Dispute Management Framework through upstream measures to encourage mediation and conflict resolution between neighbours.
There are also cessation programmes available across healthcare institutions, workplaces and in the community, to support smokers in quitting the habit. For example, HPB’s ‘I Quit 28-day Countdown Programme’ encourages participants to take daily actions to remain tobacco-free and rewards participants who quit successfully. Smokers can call QuitLine (1800 438 2000) to receive customised smoking cessation counselling from Certified Quit Smoking Consultants or visit HealthHub for articles, tips and support. HPB is also leveraging digital platforms during COVID-19 to pilot online delivery of programmes such as smoking cessation talks at workplaces, and will continue to ensure easy access to smoking cessation programmes.
While we will continue to monitor our efforts and best practices overseas, mitigating secondhand smoke in homes ultimately requires everyone to play their part. I urge smokers to exercise social responsibility and refrain from lighting up where the secondhand tobacco smoke can affect those around them. Families and friends of smokers, as well as the general public, can help reinforce these social norms.