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    Dec 30, 2015

    Legal smoking age may be raised to 21

    THE Singapore authorities are seeking public views on raising the minimum legal age for buying and using tobacco from 18 to 21.

    According to a 2008 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), those who do not start smoking before the age of 21 are unlikely to ever begin, said the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in a statement issued yesterday.

    The authorities are also looking at restricting the sale of flavoured tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes.

    These proposals will be part of a public consultation - from Dec 29 to March 29 next year - to seek views on a suite of tobacco-control measures that Singapore could potentially introduce.

    HPB will be launching the consultation together with the Ministry of Health and the Health Sciences Authority.

    The measures are intended to discourage Singaporeans from picking up smoking and encourage smokers to kick the habit. Other proposals include:


    Standardised packaging, also known as "plain packaging", requires all tobacco products to be placed in unattractive packaging, without any promotional information such as logos. The packaging must also carry health warnings.


    Currently, all tobacco products sold in Singapore are required to have graphic health-warning images occupy 50 per cent of the space on the front and 50 per cent on the back of all packaging. WHO recommends that countries should consider increasing the size of graphic health warnings to cover more than 50 per cent of tobacco packaging, as well as replacing the images on such warnings every two to three years to increase its effectiveness.

    The proposed new regulations will be the latest in a series of anti-smoking measures taken by the Government in recent years.

    This month, MOH announced a ban on the display of tobacco products in shops which will kick in by the end of 2017. All retailers will have to keep tobacco products out of sight at all times, unless during restocking or when they are selling them to a customer.

    Emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes were also banned on Dec 15.

    Singapore's smoking rate has been steadily decreasing, from 18.3 per cent in 1992 to 13.3 per cent in 2013. The authorities aim to reduce the smoking prevalence rate further to 12 per cent by 2020.