We thank Forum writer Candice Yeo Chay Hoon for her feedback (Many seem unaware of tobacco-free generation initiative, June 1).
Tobacco control is a vital element in the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) preventive health strategy. We have adopted a multi-year, multi-pronged approach to reduce and discourage the use of tobacco products among Singaporeans.
We work with many partners to deliver public education to increase awareness of the harms of tobacco use, smoking cessation programmes, legislative measures, taxation and enforcement.
These efforts have contributed to a steady decline in smoking prevalence in the Singapore population over the years, from 13.9 per cent in 2010 to 11.8 per cent in 2017 and 10.1 per cent in 2020.
We employ specific measures to reduce the use of tobacco products in young people. For example, we raised the minimum legal age for smoking to 21.
We have also banned vaping and other emerging tobacco products, which can be gateways to smoking.
We work with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Ministry of Education to educate students on the harms of using tobacco and nicotine products. HPB runs programmes to support underage smokers or vapers to quit, working through schools’ student health advisers.
We continually review international developments in tobacco control.
New Zealand, Malaysia and Denmark recently announced plans to implement tobacco-free generation policies. MOH will examine how these countries develop and enforce the bans, to determine if this can be similarly applied in Singapore.
Chow Wai Leng (Dr)
Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control
Ministry of Health