A major law change concerning the minimum legal smoking age has been proposed by the Singaporean Parliament. At the moment, the age stands at 18, but some MPs have proposed that the age is raised to 21 in an attempt to dissuade young people from taking it up.
The proposal will be made within the next year, whilst tobacco sale laws in the country will be strengthened with a focus on young people. As it stands, laws in Singapore are seen as pretty tough. Anyone under the age of 18 caught smoking is subject to a fine of up to $300, a fine that is almost certain to be extended once the legal age is amended,
Smoking outdoors in a public space or any prohibited venue results in a fine of as much as $1,000. Basically, anyone who smokes in Singapore needs to be careful about where they choose to do it and know of all the legal implications of doing so in different settings.
Although the new smoking age will not be signed into law straight away, many of the amendments will be implemented gradually, coming into full effect sometime in 2018. Until then, many young smokers will have to consider giving up until they reach the age of 21.
For any young smokers who want to know what to do if breaching the laws, they could seek legal advice. Many smokers in Singapore are likely to have started at a young age, something that was alluded to by Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor.
When asked about the legal smoking age, Dr Khor spoke about the need to protect the health of the public. ““We want to protect our young from the harms of tobacco and lay the foundations for good health. In Singapore, nearly half – or 45 per cent – of smokers become regular smokers between the ages of 18 and 21 years”, she told Yahoo News.
Other amendments to smoking laws that could become reality include changes to packaging to further discourage young smokers and extension of a scheme to help current smokers quit. Standardised packaging is already in place in countries such as the UK and Australia. The packaging would have labels blanked out, with health warnings clearly displayed.
Further consultation on standardised packaging is due to take place later this year, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health. If the previous one on the minimum legal age is anything to go by, there is a very real possibility that packaging changes could be given the go-ahead.