New smoking ban along Orchard Road sparks criticisms from smokers

Gabriel Choo
A designated smoking area at Cuppage Terrace. (Photo: Gabriel Choo/ Yahoo Singapore)

Smokers at Orchard Road are up in arms about a new rule banning smoking in all public areas along the shopping district from 1 July next year.

They question the aim and effectiveness of the ban announced by the National Environment Agency on Friday (30 June), saying that it would put off people from hanging out at Orchard Road and hurt businesses.

The rule affecting the Orchard Road precinct, which stretches from Tanglin Road to Dhoby Ghaut, is to “protect the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke,” NEA said in a statement.

Yahoo Singapore went down to Orchard Road on Friday afternoon (30 June) to ask smokers on their opinions about the ban.

Two people smoking outside Cuppage Terrace, located at Orchard Road on Friday (30 June) afternoon. (Photo: Gabriel Choo/ Yahoo Singapore)

Qaisara Roslan, 19, who was smoking with her friends at the Odd One Out bar at Peranakan Place, found the new rule “retarded”. She said smokers would feel hindered about coming to Orchard Road to socialise.

“Most young people who smoke do so as a way of spending quality time with each other. If we don’t even have the freedom to do that, it defeats the purpose and I would rather go somewhere else,” said the polytechnic student.

National serviceman Gregory Tuazon, 21, agreed and found the rule “messed up” even if the intention were to make the area more family-friendly. “People will start to smoke illegally and foreigners (who smoke) might not even know of this rule. It isn’t a good measure at all,” he said.

In addition to the smoking curb at Orchard Road, food retail establishments islandwide are no longer able to apply for smoking corners.

A worker at a food and beverage outlet at Orchard Road, who only wanted to be known as Charlie, said the ban on smoking corners would affect business as many customers are smokers.

“If they don’t smoke, what else are they going to do? It is already a part of their lives,” he said. “Of course, they can always go elsewhere to smoke, but that means we would be losing customers.”

The F&B outlets and bars at Peranakan Place, Orchard Road, are popular among smokers. (Photo: Gabriel Choo/ Yahoo Singapore)

The ban does not affect the five designated smoking areas in Orchard Road, located behind Somerset MRT Station, Cuppage Terrace, Far East Plaza, Orchard Towers and The Heeren.

But it is scant consolation for smokers at Orchard Road, who said they find it inconvenient to light up at the designated areas due to the small number and locations.

Tan Hwee Ping, 34, who works in the area, said that the nearest designated smoking area is about a 10-minute walk from her workplace. “They have already added so many non-smoking zones recently and now they want to target Orchard Road too?” she complained.

Tan added, “The designated box is too small and the smoke will fly out of the box anyway. It is really very stupid.”

While many F&B customers are smokers, the government’s anti-smoking drive along Orchard Road has found an unlikely ally in Yung Ong, 36, owner of pubs at Peranakan Place including Acid Bar, Alley Bar, Black Nut and Odd One Out.

“We support the government’s mission (to curb smoking). The owners of Peranakan Place Complex and the bars do not advocate smoking as they have a history of cancer in their family,” said Ong.

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