MPs raise option of banning smoking in homes; Senior Minister of State cautions against intruding privacy

Photo: Sara Kurfeß via Unsplash

In one of the more drastic measures suggested in Parliament, some politicians expressed their belief that banning smoking inside residential flats are a totally viable idea.

Thankfully for smokers in Singapore, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor shot down the idea yesterday, cautioning against the intrusion of privacy in homes.

The Straits Times reported that seven Members of Parliament (MPs) have urged for stronger action against smokers in residential flats, as the secondhand smoke affects their neighbors when it wafts over to their homes.

  • Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chia Shi-Lu called for the total ban of smoking in HDB flats, noting how he has fielded numerous complaints from residents about the “nuisance and unhealthy effects” of secondhand smoke drifting into their flats.
  • Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng experienced the same in his constituency, stating that his residents complain about being affected by secondhand smoke when neighbors smoke at their windows or balconies. “Imagine being exposed to and having to tolerate secondhand smoke from your neighbors every day for years with the only reprieve being moving out altogether,” Channel NewsAsia quoted Ng to say.
  • His fellow Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said that there has been an increase in conflicts between neighbors involving cigarette smoke.
  • For Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam, one resident in her district — a lung cancer survivor — had to constantly close his windows and put a cloth below his main door because his neighbor smokes at the window. She suggested penalties for blowing out secondhand smoke out of a residential home.
  • Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh reminded that non-smokers have been lodging complaints for years about neighbors smoking at window ledges, common corridors and staircase landings.
  • Fengshan SMC MP Cheryl Chan had one resident affected by neighbors chain-smoking in common corridors, forcing her to turn on air-conditioning at home for her children.
  • Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira proposed that smokers have to ensure their cigarette smoke does not escape their flats, suggesting that air filters can be installed in their rooms.

“Homes are private spaces”

Dr. Khor responded to the MPs concerns by reminding that an “intrusive regulatory approach” could be detrimental to community harmony, ST quoted her as saying.

“If we were to prohibit smoking in one’s own home, it would inevitably entail bringing to bear the necessary investigation and enforcement powers,” she said, adding that such a measure cannot be taken lightly.

“Homes are private spaces; we need to be mindful that not everyone would support the view that the Government should intrude into one’s private space on the issue of smoking”.

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