Residents of future smoke-free zone, Nee Soon South, think it won't work

Sia Ling Xin
Residents of Nee Soon South think a smoke-free scheme won't work. (Yahoo! photos)

Nee Soon South will become a mega no-smoking area by the end of the year.

However, some residents think people won't follow the rules and they won't make a difference.
 
The smoking ban is the Health Promotion Board's  (HPB) brainchild, and it aims to make the 50,000-person neighbourhood in Yishun the first ‘smoke-free’ constituency.
 
Currently, the National Environment Agency (NEA) rules designate non-smoking areas.

HPB's  plan is the opposite -- they will point out where a smoker can puff. This means that by default, smokers cannot light up in Nee Soon South.

While it is not clear where the designated smoking areas may be, open carparks, parks and other open places may be ruled out.

However, smokers staying in Yishun do not seem to think it will impact smoking habits much, especially if penalties are not imposed strictly.

Old folk




Benny Toh, 37, head of corporate marketing at Singapore Management University, stays in the targeted area.

His first reaction was that the elderly would be hit the hardest, as many of them smoke while hanging out at coffee shops or under void decks in the day.

He said, “Working adults may smoke when they reach their work area or elsewhere, but many elderly people spend the whole day in the neighbourhood, and Yishun is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Singapore.”

He added, “It’s one thing to be mindful of others, another to take away smokers' rights.”

He said that his elderly father, who is a smoker, will find it very hard to cope with the new rule.
 
Unruly?

Marilyn Ng, 30, who is a smoker affected by the ban, said it depends on the penalties involved.
 
“Singaporeans are only obedient when they have something to gain or something to lose. For example, if there are many officers in the area to ‘catch’ unruly smokers, or if a culture of shaming smokers online develops as a result of the rule, people will start to take action and behave accordingly,” she said.
 
If smokers are just expected to follow the rule out of their own initiative, it would not have much effect, she predicted.
 
“New rules are coming out every day, but setting a new rule and making people obey are two different things,” said a 34-year-old smoker and Yishun resident who only wanted to be known as Vincent.
 
Fresh air

However, Jenny Lim, a non-smoker who stays in Yishun, thinks the new rule will make it easier to “tell those who are smoking without consideration for others off”.
 
“There are some smokers who walk while puffing, and if you’re behind them, you have to breathe in their second-hand smoke. Others who smoke at traffic-lights also disturb non-smokers,” the 24-year-old sales executive said.
 
“I think this rule will make it easier for us to tell them to move further away or snub the cigarette out, as we will have a ‘right’ to do so,” she said.
 
Additional reporting by Jeanette Tan

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