• April 17, 2024

Singapore Studying New Zealand’s Tobacco Plan

 Singapore Studying New Zealand’s Tobacco Plan
Photo: Stockbym

Singapore’s health authorities are debating whether to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand by gradually raising the smoking age until it covers the entire population, reports The Straits Times.

On Jan. 8, New Zealand unveiled a plan to phase out smoking through price hikes, nicotine limits and increasing age restrictions, among other measures.

On Jan. 11, Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon told Parliament he would look at how New Zealand’s experience could be applicable in Singapore.

Singapore is unlikely to copy New Zealand’s embrace of vaping as an alternative to smoking, however. “If vaping becomes entrenched among the younger generation, it undoes all the progress we made on curbing smoking, and will take an enormous effort over many years to curb its use,” said Koh.

While e-cigarettes are banned in the city state, they are readily available through e-commerce, according to Koh.

Smoking prevalence in Singapore fell from 11.8 percent in 2017 to 10.1 percent in 2020. The city state introduced standardized packaging and enhanced graphic health warnings in 2020 and raised the minimum legal age for smoking from 19 years to 21 years in January 2021.

As a result of such measures, smoking among adults aged 18 to 29 decreased from 9.8 percent in 2017 to 8.8 percent in 2020, according to Koh

Smoking and second-hand smoke exposure accounted for about $180 million of healthcare costs in Singapore in 2019, he noted.