By Kai Schultz
(Bloomberg) — Singapore is open to imposing a smoking ban on young adults on the lines of similarly strict rules proposed in New Zealand last month, underscoring its commitment to bolstering tobacco control.
“It is an attractive proposal, in that it prevents young people from taking up smoking while not putting too many restriction on older smokers,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement Tuesday, in response to questions from parliament. “Then, as the years go by, more and more cohorts are smoking free.”
In a first such nationwide ban, New Zealand announced in December that it plans to raise the legal smoking age by one year every year and will introduce new legislation to progressively lift the smoking age from 18, starting in 2027 as well as limit the number of shops selling tobacco.
The city-state of 5.5 million population plans to study how effective this policy initiative proves to be and how that experience could apply to Singapore though the ministry pointed out that its young people were generally not taking up smoking.
Singapore may also enhance its vaping ban, the ministry said, calling that as the bigger challenge with young people finding ways around the law by ordering e-cigarettes online. “If vaping becomes entrenched amongst the younger population, it undoes all the progress we have made on curbing smoking,” it said in the statement.
Singapore’s strict policies have helped cut smoking prevalence from 11.8% in 2017 to 10.1% in 2020, the ministry said. Even among young adults, a smaller proportion were smoking after the minimum legal age was raised from 19 years in 2019 to 21 years in 2021.
World Bank data for 2018, the most recent year for which this data is available, put the number of adult smokers in China at 24.7%, at 25.1% in the U.S. and 14.8% for New Zealand.
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