The minimum age for smoking in Singapore will be raised from 18 to 21 with the introduction of a new Bill which was passed in the Parliament on Monday, October 2. The Singapore government thus initiated its first legal step to reduce smoking among teenagers and early adults.
The Bill was proposed by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong for further discussions in the coming days.
Louis Ng, a Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC said that the Health Ministry, on raising the minimum legal age, intends to reduce and eventually eradicate chances that tempt youngsters to begin smoking before reaching 21 years.Research by the World Health Organization shows people who don't pick up smoking before 21 are unlikely to start.
As stated by The Straits Times, Almost half the smokers in Singapore start to smoke regularly when they are aged between 18 to 21 years.
There has also been a significant drop in the average age at which people start smoking. The age range dropped from 17 years in 2001 to 16 years in 2013.
The Bill was welcomed by medical experts in line with implementing substantial measures.
As stated by SATA CommHealth chief executive K. Thomas Abraham, these measures include public campaigns with deterrent ads on buses and higher taxes for cigarettes increasing a packet's cost to over S$32 coupled with stronger enforcement action.
Bringing about an amendment in the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, this Bill will also term imitation of tobacco products like e-cigarettes illegal to be owned by people. With an already present restriction to import, distribute, sell or offer to sell such products, proposed changes in the Bill could impose fines as high as $2000 for e-cigarette owners.