Oct 22, 2010

Singapore considers a lifelong ban on the sale of tobacco

What the hell is this all about?! So now they want to decide how people should live their life? You might as well ban fatty food, alcohol and gambling too! It's ridiculous that the Health Promotion Board views such a moronic proposal as "an interesting one which we can review.”

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has not ruled out the option of a lifelong ban on the sale of tobacco, starting with the young generation today.

“The proposal to ban smoking for those born in and after year 2000 is an interesting one which we can review,” Ms Prema V, the deputy director of HPB’s youth health division, told Yahoo! Singapore.

She added, “While it is innovative, it is necessary to further assess its feasibility and consider other important associated issues that may arise such as illegal tobacco sales as well as tobacco purchases made overseas.”

She was referring to a controversial proposal by a group of anti-tobacco activists to make smoking illegal for any Singapore citizen born in or after the year 2000.

The ultimate aim of the proposal, led by National Cancer Centre Singapore lung surgeon Koong Heng Nung, 44, is to prevent whole generations from ever being able to smoke, at any age. It also explained how the legislation could be implemented: For instance, foreigners who produce a passport can still buy cigarettes, and affected citizens who are found smoking should be legally liable if they are above 18.

The proposal was presented at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress 2010 last week and reported in The Straits Times on Wednesday.

Said Ms Prema, “We welcome suggestions and partnerships to help bolster our smoking control efforts.”

She noted, HPB — the national driver of the National Tobacco Control Programme — adopts a “multi-pronged strategy” in its youth smoking control measures and studies have shown legislation and bans alone may not be sufficient to deter smoking among youths.

However, for Associate Professor of Health Policy & Management at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Phua Kai Hong, the proposal is not feasible.

It’s “not possible” to stop a whole population from smoking, he said.

Such a ban, would be “draconian,” said Dr Phua. “We resort to extreme regulation only when all else fails … right now, using the pricing mechanism, we are already able to solve a lot of problems.”

Dr Phua added, bans are introduced when there is an immediate ill-effect, for instance, in the case of dangerous drugs.

Calling for more “sensitivity”, he said, cigarettes are a “mild stimulant”. And while acknowledging their health risks, he also pointed to various contributing factors, including the level of addiction and exposure.

Dr Phua raised another concern should the proposed ban be implemented: “Where’s the limit?”

Could fatty foods, for instance, be next to undergo legislation because of its related health risks, he wondered.

The issue has sparked fierce debate among the general Singaporean public.

To read more of this article, click here.

If they do decide to implement this proposal, I would make the hard decision to leave this country. Not just because I smoke, but because I can't live in a country that won't allow it citizens to make their own choices in life. It's that simple!

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