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07 Nov 2022

4th Feb 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Desmond Choo
MP for Tampines GRC

Question No. 1572

To ask the Minister for Health (a) over the last 10 years, what is the smoking rate amongst young Singaporeans; (b) what are the factors causing Singaporeans to pick up smoking; (c) what is the average age in picking up smoking and (d) what are the measures planned to further curb smoking amongst young Singaporeans.

Written Reply

1     Smoking prevalence among students in secondary schools, ITE and polytechnics decreased from 8% in the period from 2011-13 to 4% in the period from 2014-16.[1] Similarly, smoking prevalence among Singapore residents aged 18-29 years has declined from 17.2% in 2007[2] to 9.9% in 2017.[3] The average age of smokers who started smoking daily was 18 years in 2017.[4] According to research conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the key reasons behind why the youth start smoking are social influence from friends and the perception that smoking is ‘cool’.

2     The Ministry of Health adopts a multi-pronged approach to curb smoking amongst Singaporeans young and old, which includes a comprehensive mix of strategies such as public education, provision of smoking cessation services, legislation controlling tobacco advertising, sales of cigarettes to minors and taxation.

3     One key measure that addresses the role of social influence in smoking initiation is the Minimum Legal Age (MLA) for tobacco use. This was raised to 20 years on 1 January 2020, and will be raised to 21 years on 1 January 2021. This aims to denormalise tobacco use among youth below the age of 21, restrict their access to tobacco in their social circles, and hence reduce the likelihood of smoking initiation.

4     To reduce the influence of positive communication around tobacco product brands, which may contribute to its perceived ‘cool’ factor, the standardised packaging of tobacco products with enhanced graphic health warnings will come into force from 1 July 2020.

5     In the community and schools, HPB works with educators and community organisations to promote smoke-free living among our youth. HPB conducts smoking cessation training for educators and youth workers.In addition, Student Health Advisors are deployed in schools to support students on health issues, including tailored counselling to quit smoking. HPB also complements anti-tobacco messages in the school curricula with interactive programmes, such as assembly skits and workshops. 




[1] Student Health Surveys 2011-2013 and 2014-2016
[2] National Health Surveillance Survey 2007
[3] National Population Health Survey 2017
[4] National Population Health Survey 2017.  Based on data for smokers aged 18 – 39 years, as this would be more reflective of recent trends among the youth in Singapore.


Category: Parliamentary QA