Smokers caught lighting up outside designated spots on Orchard Road can now be fined up to $1k

Photo: Mathew MacQuarrie/Unsplash
Photo: Mathew MacQuarrie/Unsplash

Orchard Road has been smoke-free, minus selected smoking spots along the stretch, since January this year, in case you haven’t heard. But the last three months have been an “advisory period” to allow people time to adjust. Basically, if you were caught puffing on a cigarette in the No Smoking Zone anytime before April 1, you were simply let off with a warning.

But the leniency has been over as of yesterday. Now, you can only light up within one of the more than 50 designated smoking areas in the shopping district, in yellow boxes outside places like Far East Plaza, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, Plaza Singapura, Shaw House, and Wheelock Place. Anyone caught flouting the law can face composition fines of $200 or court fines of up to $1,000.

According to the National Environment Agency, a “high average” of 1,900 advisories per day was issued in the first week of January, when Orchard Road went smoke-free. But it subsequently decreased over 70 percent to a daily average of 550 by mid-March. When NEA officers switched from written to verbal advisories from March 18, the number fell even further to 87 a day.

Don’t think about claiming ignorance though, because ads have been flooding selected MRT stations, bus stops, and buses that stop along Orchard Road. Plus, posters and brochures have appeared in the district’s malls and hotels, along with floor stickers at various spots along the main pedestrian area in the No Smoking Zone, so there’s really no missing it.

After conducting a public survey with more than 500 people on Orchard Road over the last three months, NEA said over 80 percent of respondents agreed that there’s been reduced secondhand tobacco smoke and an improved overall visitor experience since the No Smoking Zone went into effect.

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