Orchard Road to become smoke-free zone
NEA will also stop accepting applications for smoking corners in eateries island-wide
Smoking will be banned in most public spaces in the Orchard Road area from July 1 next year, the National Environment Agency (NEA)said yesterday.
The ban will be in force from Tanglin Mall on Tanglin Road and Goodwood Park Hotel on Scotts Road to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station on Orchard Road, covering more than 30 roads and 100 buildings.
Public areas in the zone will be designated "smoke-free".
NEA also said it will no longer accept applications for smoking corners in food retail establishments island-wide with immediate effect.
This means that new F&B establishments, including coffee shops or hawker centres, can no longer set up smoking corners.
Existing establishments with smoking corners need not give them up when renewing their licence - but those which change ownership will not be allowed to have smoking corners.
Licences are renewed annually.
NEA's director-general of Public Health, Mr Derek Ho, told reporters that, with the exception of those in Orchard, existing smoking corners will be allowed to remain until their current food shop licences are terminated or cancelled.
But the Orchard area's 16 smoking corners will be removed by June 30 next year. Once the ban kicks in, smokers in the area will be able to light up only at designated smoking areas (DSAs).
Mr Hong Poh Hin, chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association, which represents more than 400 establishments island-wide,was shocked to learn of this from The New Paper.
"I don't think it's reasonable. Smoking corners are important because people will know where to smoke," said Mr Hong, 69, who manages a coffee shop in Serangoon.
"They will still light up and cigarette butts will end up everywhere."
There are now five government-owned DSAs in Orchard Road - near Somerset MRT station, Cuppage Terrace, Far East Plaza, Orchard Towers and The Heeren.
Building owners in Orchard can set up their own DSAs as long as they comply with NEA guidelines, such as situating them away from main thoroughfares and displaying messages to give up smoking.
NEA said it had been engaging the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) and other stakeholders since 2015 before making this decision.
Orba executive director Steven Goh said: "We welcome NEA's move and will continue to work closely with NEA to ensure the successful implementation of the smoke-free zone."
Describing Orchard as a "natural choice" for a smoke-free zone because of its "high human traffic", NEA's Mr Ho said smoke-free zones could be extended to more areas.
Asked about potential backlash from smokers, he said: "We will have to continue to balance both the interests of smokers and non-smokers.
"This progressive rollout of the ban, as well as designating these DSAs, is to allow smokers to have some space to continue to smoke but also, at the same time, to separate and protect the non-smoking public."