Would banning the display of tobacco products prevent non-smokers from picking up smoking?
You might want to appreciate the sight of cigarette displays at the local shops for these two years because you may not see them by 2017. Following the ban on alternative tobacco products which took place on Tuesday, Singapore is now banning the display of tobacco products.
What's going on?
Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that retailers of tobacco products will no longer be allowed to display them in their shops from 2017. They are required to use self-closing and opaque storage units to prevent them from being visible to the public.
Text-only price lists are allowed to be shown to facilitate transactions, but they are only permitted upon requests by customers. The only time when the public might accidentally catch a glimpse of cigarettes in Singapore would be when retailers are restocking the items.
The move, following amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, is aimed to prevent youths from picking up the habit due to the exposure to the products and to deter "impulse buying" among non-smokers. The effort is also made to help smokers who are trying to quit.
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MOH quoted research which reported that similar bans imposed in other countries have proven to be successful. The daily smoking rates in Iceland decreased from 28.1 per cent in 1996 to 19.3 per cent in 2006, after the ban was introduced in 2001.
MOH also said that a study done in 2014 showed that out of 1,300 respondents, 20 per cent of non-smokers said that the point-of-sales display of tobacco products has aroused curiosity among them. 46 per cent of smokers say that they bought these products upon seeing them on display.
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PHOTO CREDIT: THE STRAITS TIMES' FACEBOOK
The news has become a point of contention among citizens. On one side, people feel that banning the display would rid any temptations or curiosity aroused upon seeing the display for non-smokers who are considering smoking.
24-year-old lab technician Nur Nadia said: "For non-smokers, it would be less of a temptation for them to pick up the habit. However, it is still not as effective as banning the tobacco products. Why not ban it like how chewing gum was banned?"
However, many feel that banning the display of tobacco products would not help to achieve its aim of preventing non-smokers to pick up the habit, because cigarettes are not only bought on impulse.
SMOKING HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN FOR ITS CONSEQUENCES, BUT PEOPLE
CONTINUE PICKING UP THE HABIT DUE TO MANY OTHER FACTORS.
20-year-old NSman Hafiz Hashim said: "People pick up smoking from their friends or from others, not on impulse when they see these cigarettes in stores. They may be driven by problems in life. Furthermore, for people who have been smoking, they already know what types of cigarettes are around, so it makes no difference."
What's your take?
1) Do you think banning the display of tobacco products would prevent non-smokers from picking up the habit? Why or why not?
2) What else do you think can be done to prevent non-smokers from picking up smoking?
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