Smoking brings with it much harm, regardless whether it is with respect to health, finance, environmental or social issues. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) estimates that tobacco kills one person every 10 seconds (WHO, 2005). Smoking causes cancer, and is a major risk for illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive lung disease. These account for close to two-thirds of all deaths in Singapore in the year 2000 (Health Promotion Board (“HPB”), n.d.). Tobacco is the fourth most common risk factor for disease worldwide. Singapore government had already realized the negative effects of smoking, and therefore as early as the 1970s, it implemented regulations for smoking vide restricting smoking in public places and advertising of tobacco. In 1986, the launch of the National Smoking Control Programme, a comprehensive long-term programme for smoking control spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, Singapore (“MOH”), with the theme “Towards a Nation of Non-Smokers”, further set forth the government’s stand on smoking. Recent changes to legislation (Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act (Chapter 310)) seek to further restrict smoking in public places. The Straits Times (“ST”) forum pages has been inundated with members of public penning their controversial views of possibilities, benefits and detriments of tobacco-banning in Singapore. And most controversial of all, top cancer specialists from nine Asian countries have joined forces to push for a total ban on tobacco in 10 years (“S’pore cancer specialists to push for tobacco ban”, ST, 22 September 2005).
It is to be noted that there exist economic costs to the country. There is high public health costs of treating diseases brought about by tobacco-smoking, and it kills people at the height of their productivity, depriving families of breadwinners and the nation of healthy workforce. The smokers are also less productive while alive due to increased sickness. Studies on ten...
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