B. Singapore: Anti-Tobacco Movement

Hefty fines if caught smoking. Captured by Josepha Na, 28/11/18.

Singapore is one of the first countries in the world that has adopted a tobacco control initiative on a nationwide scale. The challenge was that smoke environments expose the public to secondhand smoke. Removing this exposure would effectively minimise the health effects caused by tobacco smoke. 2012 Design initiative, Blue Ribbon, is a symbol of the anti-tobacco movement by the Health Promotion Board (HPB). Its effectiveness on minimising the exposure of secondhand smoke upon the public, through smoke-free areas, has been acknowledged and recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2012.

This initiative contains a bottom-up approach. Through de-normalising smoking, with smoke-free environments, it sends the message that this is a default lifestyle. Citizens themselves have to promote this lifestyle “to build such smoke-free environments,” said Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health. Evidently, Singapore has always had one of the lowest prevalence of smoking in the world, with men at 24.2% and women at 3.5%. (Shafey, 2003).

smoking timeline
Popspoken’s, Sheryl Teo, Infographic timeline on Singapore’s Tobacco regulations. <http://popspoken.com/opinion/2016/03/rethinking-proposed-tobacco-measures-singapore/amp>

Through this timeline we can see that it was not a simple and quick process.  In 1986 the government launched a long term, comprehensive national programme with the theme: “Towards a Nation of Non-Smokers.” (Assunta, 2004) and even till today new initiatives have been created to combat new challenges and enforce further control on tobacco.

Singapore has taken numerous progressive steps in Tobacco Control. Largely the government has impacted this movement through accepting it as legislation across the nation (Barraclough, 2003). This is also largely a part of its success. Being recognised by WHO, for Blue Ribbon, is a huge indicator that this legislation has been successful. HPB’s health ambassadors play a large role in advocating for these smoke free environments. They go door to door distributing blue ribbons and quit kits. This involvement is a positive enforcement upon the community. The peer support given by the higher ups is definitely a positive act that will impact citizens.

In being recognised by the World Health Organisation and evidently having one of the world’s lowest prevalence rates of smoking, Singapore’s government has made effective and successful measures from the past 4 decades to ensure tobacco in the country is under control.




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