Enforcement on smoking in prohibited HDB areas more than doubled in 2020

A man smokes at the window of his residential unit in Singapore. (PHOTO: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
A man smokes at the window of his residential unit in Singapore. (PHOTO: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The number of enforcement actions taken against smoking in prohibited areas in HDB estates had more than doubled in 2020 when compared to the figure in 2019.

In a media release on Thursday (4 February), the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it issued 1,090 tickets last year for smoking in prohibited areas such as common corridors, staircases and lift lobbies. This is a 112-per-cent increase from tickets issued in 2019.

The increase came after the agency received 25 per cent more feedback for smoking in HDB estates, which can be attributed to more people working from home for the most part of last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to behavioural and work-life changes arising from COVID-19, NEA adjusted its enforcement posture and prioritised resources to focus on areas with higher feedback,” NEA said in the media release.

High-rise littering also on the rise in 2020

Another offence which saw an increase in feedback received was high-rise littering; NEA said it received 45 per cent more feedback in 2020, compared to 2019.

It has therefore increased its high-rise littering camera deployment by over 50 per cent last year, resulting in 1,120 enforcement actions taken so far against high-rise litterbugs, with more cases under investigation. This is an increase of about 80 per cent from the number of enforcement actions in 2019.

Overall, however, the number of tickets issued for littering and smoking offences dropped from more than 49,000 in 2019 to more than 36,000 last year.

“The decrease in 2020 is attributed to the COVID-19 measures implemented, such as during the two-month circuit breaker period, which led to fewer tickets being issued for littering and smoking offences overall,” NEA explained in the media release.

“With more people working from home, there were also less enforcement actions for littering offences in traditionally high footfall locations, such as transport nodes and congregation areas outside of malls or open fields, but more enforcement actions taken against smoking at prohibited areas in HDB estates and for high-rise littering offences.”

Abuse of NEA enforcement officers rose from 79 in 2019 to 90 in 2020

Abuse of NEA enforcement officers in the course of engagement with offenders have also increased in 2020.

There were 90 such cases last year, of which more than 70 cases occurred when officers engaged smoking or littering offenders. This is about a 10 per cent increase from the 79 abuse cases in 2019.

“Cases of abuse are reported to the police, and we strongly urge members of the public to cooperate with our enforcement officers if approached,” it said.

Last year, NEA also held trials on the deployment of informative standees at public areas with persistent littering feedback and enforcement carried out, to remind and deter people from committing littering offences. The standees highlight the number of littering incidents detected in the area and enforcement actions taken.

The three-month trial started in October, and NEA plans to roll this out islandwide this year.

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