Enforce smoking ban at eateries now

If we think we are doing something right, let’s do it with resolve. Don’t water it down and don’t compromise just to cater to sectoral demands or interests. In implementing any public policy, we can never achieve 100% consensus. The most important consideration is for the good of the public.

It took us a long time to realise the folly of smoking. It took us an even longer time to try to ban it in public places.

For goodness sake, let’s do it properly and professionally without further delay and procrastination.

I don’t understand why we are allowing another six months of “grace period” to educate the public on the smoking ban at eateries. If we allow six months’ of smoking violation without punitive consequences, I don’t think that is effective education.

On the contrary, it may give the impression that the anti-smoking law is just a trivial matter.

I would prefer that enforcement is carried out from day one, perhaps with a lower fine during the first few months or for first-time offenders. This will send a more cogent message to the people – violations have their immediate consequences.

Effective enforcement must deliver imminent punishment against violators. Do we know why our anti-littering, anti-speeding and illegal parking laws are never effective? Simple, our enforcement is sporadic and the punishment is never immediate. Most of the time we get away and even if we are caught, we can wait for a discount to settle the summonses.

I don’t want to see our anti-smoking law ending up like the anti-littering law. I urge the health minister to be more forceful and diligent when it comes to enforcement.

Smokers may take legal action against the government for making smoking “difficult” for them. While it is their right to do so, the government may also countersue for expenses incurred when this issue is brought to court.

Smoking and secondary smoke have been proven to be unequivocally bad. The government of the day cannot be prevented from doing something for the good of the public.

I wonder why smokers are so adamant in wanting to challenge the government while cigarette companies have remained largely silent. I hope there is no proxy war involved.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.