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Will raising Singapore's legal smoking age reduce the number of smokers here?

Singapore's authorities want the public's opinion on raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

What’s going on?

The Health Promotion Board (HPB), with the Ministry Of Health (MOH) and the Health Science Authority has launched a public consultation until Mar 19, 2016. 

Besides asking Singaporeans about raising the legal smoking age, the authorities want the public's perspective on matters such as standardising packaging among cigarette brands, enhancing graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and banning flavoured cigarettes.

The HPB wants to raise the legal smoking age based on a study conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2008. The study showed that people who do not smoke before the age of 21 are unlikely to pick up the habit. 

Singapore has gradually increased measures to deter Singaporeans from picking up smoking. The measures have worked, as our smoking rate dropped by five percent from 18.3 per cent in 1992 to 13.3 per cent in 2013. 

Earlier this month, MOH announced that retailers of tobacco products will not be allowed to display them from 2017.

The goal is to reduce Singapore's smoking rate to 12 per cent by 2020, said HPB.

However, is raising the legal smoking age to 21 going to make a difference?

 
NETIZENS ARE QUESTIONING THE LOGIC BEHIND LETTING PEOPLE FIRE A GUN AT 18, BUT NOT ALLOWING THEM TO SMOKE.

Some believe that being harsher on underage smokers is the way to reduce Singapore's smoking rate, instead of raising the legal smoking age.

 
UNDERAGE SINGAPOREANS CAUGHT SMOKING ARE LIABLE TO A FINE OF UP TO S$300. REPEAT OFFENDERS
WILL HAVE TO ATTEND SMOKING CESSATION COUNSELLING BEFORE PAYING THEIR FINES.

Joel Han, 21, believes that raising the legal smoking age will not make a difference. 

He said : "Underage people will always have means of attaining cigarettes, whether it is attaining fake identification or asking older friends to buy cigarette packs for them."

"One of the main reasons for underage smoking here is to look cool to one's peers. I believe increasing the legal smoking age will cause more problems than it will solve," added the third year student at Singapore Polytechnic.

On the other hand, there are people who support raising the legal smoking age. 

 
SMOKING KILLS APPROXIMATELY 2,500 SMOKERS AND 250 NON-SMOKERS EACH YEAR IN SINGAPORE.

Eva Helina, a third year media student at Singapore Polytechnic, said: "Raising the legal smoking age to 21 will surely result in lesser smokers here. Not only will it further discourage teens from picking up smoking, current smokers aged between 18 to 21 will have to quit."

What's your take?

      1) Do you support increasing the legal smoking age to 21? Why?
      2) What other measures can be taken to decrease Singapore's smoking rate?

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