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You gotta be 21 to smoke

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What do you think about the smoking ban for those under 21?

The minimum age to smoke in Singapore looks set to be raised from 18 to 21, with a new bill introduced in Parliament on Oct 2.

This follows previous calls by the authorities in 2015 to raise the minimum legal age for buying and using tobacco in Singapore.

What's going on?

In an explanatory statement, the Ministry of Health said the raise of the minimum age is to reduce and eliminate opportunities for youths below 21 to pick up smoking. 

This comes after findings showed that in Singapore, nearly half of smokers pick up smoking between the ages of 18 and 21.


This latest move is part of the government's long campaign against smoking, which included printing pictures of smoking-related diseases on cigarette packaging. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/SHERILYN CHONG 

It is yet another measure, among many others, to discourage people from smoking. Last year, a law was passed, banning the display of tobacco products in shops. And starting next year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be designating more areas as smoke-free zones, especially along Orchard Road. 

With so much being done to curb smokers, are Singaporeans supportive of raising the minimum age?

Responses to our Twitter poll this week showed that most youths are either neutral or supportive of raising the legal age. 

Muhammad Suhairi Mohd Hamzah, 20, feels the changes might discourage those under 21 from smoking. 

The Nanyang Polytechnic student said: "It may help as consequences for breaking the law in Singapore are heavy. That will make youths think twice about smoking." 

Third-year Nanyang Polytechnic student Toh Xin Yee, 20, felt that the age raise would encourage youths to find alternative ways to cope with stress instead of lighting up

She said: "Many of them smoke when they are stressed or agitated. With this age raise, they would have to find non-destructive ways to de-stress that I think would benefit them." 

But not everyone is supporting of raising the minimum age. 

Some Singaporeans felt that increasing the minimum age to smoke may be unnecessary.
PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT 

Current smoker Muhammad Hidir Azman, 20, feels that the change would not deter youths who are already interested in cigarettes.

He said: "If I was 18 now, I still wouldn't change my mind as I started smoking at 18 years old out of curiosity, and I would have started smoking even if the age was raised. I would still find other means to get cigarettes through older friends."

Other netizens felt that cigarettes were still too easily accessible, although the number of tobacco-licensed shops declined from 5,555 in 2011 to 4,764 in 2016

facebook-screenshot-smoking-cigarettes-shops
Others felt more could be done to limit the access to cigarettes.
PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT 

What's your take? 

1. Do you think raising the legal smoking age will deter young people from smoking? Why? 

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment on our article or social media platforms! Submit the best response by October 19 and win a $10 Coffee Bean voucher.