Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ban Smoking in Singapore

Recently, Singapore has up a notch in their combat against smoking. Besides displaying gruesome pictures on the cover of cigarette boxes, the government decided to show advertisements showing the adverse effects of smoking as well. What I heard was a clip on a woman who has lost all teeth due to gum cancer telling everyone on National Tv what ill effects smoking has done for her. I just find this whole government campaign farcical and hypocritical.

Firstly, imagine the amount of taxpayers' dollars that are going into these advertisements. Granted, most of the funds for these advertisements probably came from smokers who pay exhorbitant taxes just to light up. But the campaign has just gone off tangent. As if sticking pictures on cigarette packs are insufficient, the whole Singapore population has to endure 3 minutes of senseless drivel during commercial breaks now. The ultimate aim of these pictures are to curb people from taking up smoking. That means when a potential smoker pick up a pack of cigarettes the effect of the picture on the pack must turn him off enough to NOT light up.

However, it seems very unlikely that this move is doing any good. Smokers are still keeping their status quo and people are actually getting use to these pictures. Initially, this 'shock and awe' tactics might have been effective but the hype of it all would eventually fade off. Similarly, coming up with these advertisements will be a deterrant for a temporary basis. That is why, it is a complete waste of money to constantly repeat these scare tactics. If people can read and see, they will be aware of these dangers of smoking. However, they choose to be ignorant or nonchalant. It's the attitude we have to address and not the endless propaganda.

Which brings me to the point of hypocrisy. If the government is so against smoking wouldn't it be better to just completely ban it? Singapore has already taken the road less travelled by banning the chewing gum. What is it afraid off? International scrutiny? I am sure they are used to it by now. We were proudly the first country to ban chewing gum anyway. Hence, we can always lead by example again.

Yet sadly, the government is feeling less ambitious this time around. Maybe it's because of the money involved. And if it is, it's disappointing. Like alcohol, taxes for cigarettes are high. The government will in a win-win situation if they continue to allow cigarettes to lie around in Singapore. They will still be earning the 'sin' dollar from the public due to the nature that this good is of an inelastic demand. That is where the contradiction of this whole campaign lies. If the government geniunely wants the Singaporean public to be in good health, why still allow it at all? Isn't it hypocritcal to carpet bomb the nation with anti smoking advertisments and yet still allow smoking, knowing that it is bad for health? Surely the nation's welfare comes before money?

The government has already taken measures to ban smoking. Smoking at coffee shops, pubs and clubs have been severely curtailed. Yet, the government has chose to be in a position where they choose to stop short. Smokers are resigned to their fate that this country will never cast a sympathetic eye to them anymore. These advertisments are akin to death by poison. Slowly, the smokers are been marginalized further from society. Why not adopt a quicker kill? End the traps and go in for the kill now. Ban smoking entirely.

What is the point of smoking anyway when smokers are slowly been cornered and blocked off. The government should just stop wasting taxpayers' dollars and save smokers the suspense. Ban smoking entirely and Singapore will be clean and green in an entirely different context. Not everything is about dollars and sense.

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