Clearing the air between smokers and their neighbours

Should smokers be allowed to light up on private property?

Mark Ong

Published: 18 August 2017, 4:23 PM

Singapore is striving towards becoming a smoke-free nation. In a bid to reduce the number of smokers in Singapore, the government has raised the legal smoking age to 21 and introduced smoke-free zones in public areas such as Orchard Road.

Recently, a condominium got into a dispute with its residents over whether they could smoke in their own balconies. News of the incident led to an online debate on smoking rights on private property.

What’s going on?

Recently the management of condominium Meadows@Peirce sent out a notice telling residents not to smoke on their balconies or windowed areas.

Although it is currently legal for residents of private properties and HDBs to smoke on their balconies or near windows, the management backed up their decision with a clause from the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) which prohibits owners from doing anything that causes nuisance to others.

Their move did not sit well with residents of the condominium, and many netizens joined them in arguing about whether the management has a say on what residents do in their private property.

Some argue that it is their right to smoke on private property. PHOTO CREDITS: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

Jamie Lau, a student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, felt that a law banning smoking in homes would be too harsh and neighbours can explore other methods to solve the issue.

The 18-year-old said: “I don’t enjoy second-hand smoke and I would be irritated but in reality, it’s still their property. If you ban smoking in their own house, then where can they smoke?

“If my neighbour was a heavy smoker I would try talking to them nicely and explain my plight, hopefully they will be considerate enough to regulate when they light up.”

Numerous no-smoking areas are already established around Singapore. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/STEPHANIE SOH

Sharing the same sentiments, non-smoker Muhammad Amirul, 19, a student at Republic Polytechnic said: “Everyone should be able to enjoy the comforts of their own home, be it smoking or clean air. I feel that as neighbours, both parties need to compromise and accommodate with each other. For example, taking the hassle to close your windows for a few minutes, or not smoking at odd times of the day.”

However not everyone is as willing or able to tolerate smokers. Numerous neighbours and home-owners all over Singapore have agreed with the condominiums decision, citing worries for their family’s health and air quality.

There are worries about the health of children and non-smokers being affected. PHOTO CREDITS: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

19-year-old Rachel Goh feels that smoking near windows or on balconies of high-rise buildings is inconsiderate behaviour.

The Temasek Polytechnic student said: “Your neighbours are only a few meters above, below or next to you. By smoking you not only affect their health. Their laundry and homes will have the smell of smoke lingering around long after you are done.”

She added: “I feel that a confined smoking area should be created on each floor for smokers to use, if not, they should smoke downstairs or indoors, so others won’t have to pay the price for their choices.”

Should non-smokers have to tolerate the effects of other people’s choices? PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

Asthmatics such as Republic Polytechnic student Khoo Jing Hao, are physically affected by the second-hand smoke.

“My asthma is quite sensitive, if I linger around second-hand smoke for too long, I start wheezing and sometimes have trouble breathing. Therefore, I think that smoking in open-air areas of your home should be banned for the consideration of others,” Jing Hao said.

What’s your take?

1. Should smoking in open-air spaces of private property be banned? Why?

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