You can also write to us with your comments at: The Health
Promotion Board, Substance Abuse Department, 3 Second Hospital
Avenue, Singapore 168937
All responses will be carefully considered by the Health Promotion Board, Health Sciences Authority and the National Environment Agency.
1. The Health Promotion Board (HPB), Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) are considering changes to tobacco control policies to further reduce smoking rates in Singapore and would like to seek public views on these changes.
2. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today1. Tobacco can potentially cause up to half of its users to die, on average 15 years prematurely. The World Health Organization estimates that 5.4 million people die from tobacco-related diseases every year. This could rise to more than eight million every year by 2030.
3. In Singapore, smoking is linked to six out of eight main causes of death including cancer2. The National Tobacco Control Programme aims to reduce the smoking prevalence in Singapore by:
i. Building a supportive environment that encourages tobacco-free lifestyles;
ii. Preventing young people from picking up smoking;
iii. Promoting ways to help smokers break the habit; and
iv. Protecting non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
4. While the prevalence of smoking spell between 1980 and 2004, the latest National Health Survey 2010 showed that there was a slight increase in the number of smokers aged between 18 and 69 years. The most significant increase is among adult males aged 18-29 years old (from 18.2% to 25.3%) and 30-39 years old (from 22.7% to 29.3%). This trend underscores the need to review and revisit existing tobacco control strategies.
5. In 2010, Singapore amended the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act to strengthen measures against tobacco marketing and sales. Subsequently, tax rates for non-cigarette tobacco predicts were also increased. The Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act was amended to increase the protection of the public from exposure to second hand smoke.
6. Examples of enhancements made to strengthen tobacco control measures included:
Stricter tobacco packaging requirements
All cigarette packets now carry a mandatory health warning message alongside the requirement for 50% of the front and back of pack to display the graphic (picture) health warning.
Restricting availability of tobacco
Currently, tobacco cannot be sold at outlets that 1) sell health products or youth-specific products or services; and 2) are located in any health establishments licensed by MOH/HSA (e.g. hospitals, medical clinics and licensed pharmacies).
Increasing taxation on non-cigarette tobacco products
The total amount of tax on a packet of cigarettes sold in Singapore is around 69%. A 25% increase in taxes for beedies, ang hoon and smokeless tobacco, and 1.5% increase for unmanufactured tobacco, cut tobacco and tobacco refuse, was announced during the Budget 2013. This was part of the harmonisation process to bring the tax rates of these non-cigarette products closer to that of cigarettes.
7. These amendments are consistent with international developments. For example, some countries have increased the size of their picture (graphic) health warnings to further discourage smoking. Uruguay, Sri Lanka and Thailand now have among the biggest health warnings covering at least 80% of the packet (front and back). With regards to taxation, New Zealand has announced plans to increase taxes on cigarettes by 10% every year from 2013 for 4 years in order to reduce the demand and consumption of cigarettes.
8. This public consultation seeks your views on some emerging international best practices. One key measure on which we are keen to hear your views is to disallow tobacco products to be displayed openly in retail outlets. Another is the extension of the smoking ban in public places. Additional comments on other tobacco control measures or ideas that you may have are also welcome.