It is more difficult to enforce a law against smoking at home than it is to investigate the offence of being naked at home while exposed to public view, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu in Parliament on Monday (4 Jan).
Given the current technology at hand, Ms Fu asserted that it would be “challenging to track down the smoker or obtain evidence of an act of smoking being committed without rather intrusive methods”, which would inadvertently affect the privacy of innocent neighbours.
“And such efforts may still be futile if the smoker hides behind a pillar, frosted glass windows, or curtains to avoid detection,” she added.
In contrast, Ms Fu argued that it would be easier for a complainant to “pinpoint the location and capture evidence of a nude person exposing himself or herself to public view”, so as to assist with an investigation.
Subsequently, in response to a parliamentary question filed by Member of Parliament (MP) for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, the Minister noted that “one can smell smoke even without having sight of the smoker, nor the ability to pinpoint where the smoke is coming from”.
“But to impose a fine on the smoker, we need evidence to show the act of smoking, not merely the smell of the smoke,” she explained.
In October last year, Mr Ng had called for a ban on smoking near the windows or at the balconies of homes.
“Being naked in your own home doesn’t kill your neighbour but second-hand smoke could, he wrote in a Facebook post on 28 October 2020.
However, Ms Fu said that the notion of going in the buff and going for a puff is two separate matters, and both should not be compared head on.
Nonetheless, the Minister assured Mr Ng that tackling second-hand smoking is a priority in her ministry.
“We will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts in protecting the public from second-hand tobacco smoke, and consider reasonable and practical solutions as they emerge to further strengthen these efforts,” she added.