Since 1 January 2019, public areas within the Orchard Road precinct have been designated as a No Smoking Zone, where smoking is only allowed in Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs). An advisory approach was adopted in the first three months of the implementation, to give members of the public sufficient time to adjust to the smoking prohibition extension. A daily average of 735 advisories were issued to offenders between January 2019 to March 2019 following the implementation of the No Smoking Zone. When enforcement started on 1 April 2019, a daily average of 21 tickets were issued that month. With consistent enforcement and process refinements, the daily average has reduced to, and stabilized at, 14 tickets per day between 1 May to 31 December 2019 (see Figure 1 for breakdown of daily average between April to December 2019). This is a more than 50 times reduction since the start of Orchard Road No Smoking Zone, and a one third reduction since enforcement began on 1 April 2019.
The reduction in the number of tickets issued showed that smokers were generally aware that the Orchard Road precinct had become a No Smoking Zone. NEA conducted a survey with about 1,000 respondents in July 2019, of which about 400 are smokers, to obtain a sensing of public sentiments towards the implementation of the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone. 80 per cent of all respondents (including 60 per cent of smokers surveyed) supported the No Smoking Zone. The top reason cited by smokers for supporting the implementation was the positive public health impact associated with it. In addition, 80 per cent of non-smokers felt positively about the impact of the implementation on them.
NEA deploys enforcement officers, both uniformed and non-uniformed, to the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone for enforcement against public health offences, such as smoking in prohibited areas. Since enforcement started on 1 April 2019, most of the smokers approached have been cooperative. NEA will monitor compliance to the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone, and step up enforcement presence where necessary.
NEA had also engaged its cadre of more than 340 Community Volunteers (CVs) to conduct regular patrols in the No Smoking Zone. CVs who have adopted the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone as a ‘bright spot’  continue to carry out outreach activities to educate smokers to cease smoking in prohibited areas, and direct them to the nearest DSA. The CVs’ efforts complement NEA’s enforcement efforts on the ground, ensuring that friendly reminders will help to reinforce the right social behaviours and norms.
Given the sizable area of the No Smoking Zone and to enable enforcement resources to be deployed more efficiently, NEA has also been deploying surveillance cameras at selected areas along the No Smoking Zone to monitor certain hotspots and to address feedback more effectively.
NEA is continuously trying to improve the way we operate, by leveraging technology and integrating it into our mainstream operations. As part of our digitisation efforts, GovTech and NEA have also collaborated to study the feasibility of using video analytics to detect smoking incidents in public areas, such as the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone. Results from a two-week trial in 2019 in public areas showed close to 80 per cent accuracy in differentiating between smoking and non-smoking incidents.
The agencies are continuing to train and refine the algorithms used, before taking a decision to deploy the technology in public areas. To refine this technology, the agencies are planning to conduct more trials in the first half of 2020 at other public areas where smoking is prohibited or where there have been multiple feedback cases. These additional trials will also guide NEA in determining the operational feasibility of this technology, as part of our enforcement process.
Support to Quit Smoking
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) organises regular I Quit roadshows along Orchard Road, in collaboration with various partners such as the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) and Johnson & Johnson Pte Ltd. Those who are keen to quit smoking can sign up for I Quit: The 28-Day Countdown programme. The programme helps smokers break down quitting into daily actionable steps, empowering them with the knowledge, motivation, skills and support to remain smoke-free through a crucial 28-day period. This is based on findings that smokers who stay smoke-free for 28 days are five times more likely to succeed quitting for good.
Collective Effort of Stakeholders
NEA has been working closely with ORBA, government agencies, as well as owners and management of building premises in the Orchard Road precinct, on the implementation of the No Smoking Zone since 2016. There are now more than 50 DSAs located at regular intervals within the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone. Posters and brochures will continue to be placed throughout shopping centres, hotels and retail points for tobacco products in Orchard Road.
To maintain general public awareness on the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone, NEA has also replaced the older grey stickers with blue stickers on more than 100 litter bins along Orchard Road (see image 1 below).
To keep overseas visitors and inbound travellers informed of the No Smoking Zone, informational material will continue to be made available at the Orchard Road Singapore Visitor Centre, and at points of entry into Singapore, such as the Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre. In addition, the tourist maps distributed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) continue to indicate the No Smoking Zone boundary, to remind smokers not to smoke within the No Smoking Zone except at DSAs. Information on the No Smoking Zone is also available on STB’s VisitSingapore website.
Mr Steven Goh, Executive Director of ORBA said, “The feedback by both stakeholders and visitors has been positive. Since the implementation of the No Smoking Zone, the Orchard Road pedestrian thoroughfare is comparatively cleaner for all non-smoking visitors, whilst smokers have adjusted to smoking within the designated smoking areas.”
NEA takes a strict stance against smokers who flout the law, and our officers conduct regular enforcement at smoking prohibited areas. Enforcement is also conducted at locations where we receive public feedback about smoking in prohibited areas. Smoking is currently prohibited in more than 32,000 premises, including covered linkways, bus stops, bus shelters and educational institutions.
A concerted effort is needed by everyone to keep the environment clean and liveable for all. Friendly and timely reminders from family, friends and other members of the community, can also help to reinforce the right social behaviours and norms. NEA will continue to work closely with various stakeholders to reach out to and educate the public, to raise awareness on acceptable social norms, and to be considerate and smoke only in permitted areas.