The National Environment Agency (NEA) announced in a press release on Wednesday (28 November) that public areas within the Orchard Road precinct will be designated as a No Smoking Zone (NSZ), where smoking will only be allowed at the Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) from 1 January 2019 and the smoking corners at food retail establishments within the NSZ will also be rescinded by 31 December 2018.
The agency stated that it has made preparations for the implementation of the Orchard Road NSZ and have worked closely with the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA), Government agencies, as well as owners and management of building premises in the Orchard Road precinct since 2015.
NEA said that it has identified suitable locations and set up DSAs within the NSZ to keep the main Orchard Road pedestrian thoroughfare free of cigarette smoke with the strong support from ORBA and the various stakeholders, saying that the majority of the DSAs are approximately 100 to 200 metres apart to facilitate the compliance of smokers to the NSZ and ensure a sufficient spread of DSAs within a reasonable distance.
As of 22 November 2018, about 40 DSAs have been set up, the agency noted.
The agency noted that it will be ramping up publicity on the NSZ in the next few weeks to raise awareness about the upcoming smoking prohibition to be implemented on 1 January 2019.
It stated that community volunteers have already started engaging the public within the precinct. Brochures listing the locations of DSAs will be made available at shopping malls and point-of-sales of tobacco products. Signage will be erected at lamp posts and bins in the area. Advertisements will also be put up at four MRT stations (Orchard, Somerset, Newton and Dhoby Ghaut), selected bus stops and on buses that ply Orchard Road. Online mobile banners will be displayed to extend the campaign reach.
To keep foreign visitors informed of the NSZ, the agency said that it has cooperated with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to incorporate information about the NSZ on STB’s Visit Singapore webpage. Inbound travellers will also be alerted through publicity materials displayed at the points of entry such as Changi Airport, Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Tourism industry stakeholders such as travel agents, tourist guides and hotels will also be updated on the NSZ so that they can advise tourists accordingly.
NEA then stated that smoking corners at food retail establishments within the NSZ will be rescinded by 31 December 2018. Since 30 June 2017, NEA has stopped accepting applications for new smoking corners in food retail establishments island-wide. Existing smoking corners that had already been approved and which reside outside the NSZ would be allowed to remain until the current licences of the food retail establishments are terminated or cancelled. No new smoking corners will be approved for subsequent licensees of the same premises.
To facilitate the smooth implementation of the NSZ, NEA said that it will take an advisory approach in the first three months of the roll-out of the Orchard Road NSZ. However, smokers caught smoking in existing smoking prohibited areas, such as covered linkways and bus-stops, will continue to face enforcement actions. Those caught smoking in other public areas within the NSZ will receive verbal warnings. However, smokers who repeatedly flout the law in spite of prior warnings may also be issued a fine.
From 1 April 2019, enforcement action will be taken against all offenders who smoke in public areas within the NSZ, other than at DSAs. Premise owners are encouraged to demarcate DSAs and put up directional signage within their premises, if they deem it necessary to facilitate the convenience of smokers among their occupants and visitors.
NEA stressed that it takes a strict stance against smokers who flout the law and our officers conduct regular enforcement at smoking prohibited areas. Enforcement is also conducted at locations where we receive public feedback about smoking in prohibited areas.
According to the agency, about 22,000 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited areas in 2017.
NEA saidd that it will monitor the compliance to the Orchard Road NSZ and step up enforcement presence where necessary. Operators and managers of smoking prohibited premises are also required by law to request smokers to cease smoking or direct them to the nearest DSA if they wish to continue smoking.