There is ample evidence to prove that smoking can affect smokers’ health and well-being.
If their health deteriorates, they may become a burden to their families and communities.
The government and taxpayers may also have to pay a high price to look after them.
Therefore, increasing the minimum legal age for smoking from 18 to 21 years old is but only delaying the rise of a potential problem.
To eradicate the smoking problem properly, completely and sustainably, we should remove not just as symptoms but also roots of the problem.
The authorities should forecast a series of stronger actions to reduce and if not remove the harms of tobacco.
These actions should include a projection of major increases in excise duties of tobacco at different time frames in the future.
By doing that, licensed importers and tobacco retailers can better adapt to the changes and reduce their dependence on sales of tobacco.
When smokers know that they will have to pay more and more money for tobacco, it will act as a deterrent to smoking.
As smoking often starts as and remains a social activity, it’s deemed to be a “cool” activity.
The Authorities should continue to make it “uncool” to be seen smoking in the public. They should tighten the pressure to make it anti-social to smoke in the public.
We should also encourage heroes and celebrities in our midst to speak up against smoking and share with smokers on why it’s “cool” to give up smoking.
Besides banning smoking in more and more public areas, the authorities should look into banning smoking from even places with minimal human traffic and increase the distance between smokers and such places over time.
They should limit number of shops that sell tobacco and impose restrictions on them.
If possible, regulate the looks, shapes and sizes of cigarettes and cigarette boxes to make them unappealing and inconvenient for smokers to purchase, use and possess tobacco products.
To help smokers quit smoking, the Authorities can collaborate with key stakeholders from the private and people sectors to set up more “Quit Smoking” centres.
More resources should be allocated to support these centres so as to prevent our people from smoking and help existing smokers quit smoking.
Let’s aim to have a cutoff date, following which there’ll be no more new smokers.
To do that, the Authorities should consider issuing licenses for smoking and then look at how to reduce the number of licenses over a reasonable period of time.
Tourists and foreign workers can be issued temporary license but they should also be encouraged to give up smoking for their own good and for the sake of the people around them who may have to suffer as secondary smokers.
In addition, the Authorities should consider banning young people who are born after a specified year from smoking.
I’m sure many parents, including many smokers will support such a ban.
I hope this message will find a place in your heart.
By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.
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