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NEA’s enforcement of smoking laws leaves much to be desired

I give the National Environment Agency two out of 10 for its enforcement actions on illegal smoking (Back up new curbs on smoking at eateries with checks, enforcement; July 6).

NEA’s enforcement of smoking laws leaves much to be desired

Operators entering the food-and-beverage business, setting up a new outlet, or have just bought over an eatery will no longer be able to apply for smoking permits.

I give the National Environment Agency two out of 10 for its enforcement actions on illegal smoking (Back up new curbs on smoking at eateries with checks, enforcement; July 6).

Take, for example, any busy Housing and Development Board precinct: Every day, one can witness illegal smoking at the void decks, common corridors, wet market, bus stops, playgrounds and along sheltered pathways, as well as underage smoking.

It is one thing to announce that Singapore is tough on littering and illegal smoking, but the evidence on the ground points to the contrary.

Not only must the NEA act on feedback or complaints, it must be on the ground for hours.

Shift work, for example, is ideal for enforcement activity, which also creates more jobs for Singaporeans.

As smoking is harmful to health, including that of passive smokers, and to the environment, one would expect the NEA to go on the offensive over illegal smoking. But is this happening?

Would the NEA please enlighten the public with answers to some questions? How many of its employees are anti-littering/smoking enforcement officers? Do they visit HDB precincts daily and for hours, including every night, to conduct surveillance and enforcement actions?

Do the officers use vehicles to move about the different zones of each precinct, or they are left to do their job by foot?

Do they focus mainly on tourist locations, such as Orchard Road, Geylang, Chinatown and Little India?

Is the NEA adequately staffed to enforce at its optimal best?

My observation is that it does not have the numbers to carry out reliable, effective enforcement. So why is it not employing more officers?

One might contend that without nationwide enforcement, the laws against illegal and underage smoking, and even littering, are for international consumption, or that the NEA is paying lip service to its responsibility.

This is evident from comments online, including some about the latest NEA news on local media sites (Orchard Road to be smoke-free area from July next year; June 30, online).

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