We thank writers Bennie Cheok and Liu I-Chun for their letters (Do more to dissuade the young from taking first puff, Dec 14; and Tobacco-free generation proposal – time to look at how it may be applied, Dec 16).
New Zealand’s upcoming ban on the sale of tobacco products to those born after a particular year will be the first time a country has introduced such a ban at the national level. We will study the outcomes, effectiveness and operationalisation of New Zealand’s ban.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health adopts a multi-pronged approach to discourage and reduce the use of tobacco products among Singaporeans young and old.
We work with schools, parents, businesses and the wider community on a comprehensive strategy which includes public education, smoking cessation programmes, legislation controlling tobacco advertising and sales of cigarettes to minors, and taxation.
We have also banned vaping and other emerging tobacco products to curb the gateway effect to smoking, particularly among young people.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) also works closely with the Ministry of Education and institutes of higher learning to encourage young people to stay smoke-free. Young people are educated on the harms of smoking through online interactive learning activities. HPB also provides resources for self-directed learning, and trains educators to discuss the harms of smoking with their students.
These efforts have contributed to a decline in smoking among those aged 18 to 29, from 9.8 per cent in 2017 to 8.8 per cent last year. To further protect the health of Singaporeans, we will continue to review global developments and enhance our existing tobacco control measures.
Chow Wai Leng (Dr)
Epidemiology and Disease Control
Ministry of Health