Singapore - Smoking increase despite public ban, price hike..

January 19, 2009 - SMOKERS in Singapore lit up 16 million more cigarettes a month last year despite being banned from smoking in more public places and being hit by record-high cigarette prices in 2007. According to figures from the Singapore Customs, about 2.17 million kg of cigarettes - or 2.17 billion sticks - were sold last year - more than the 1.98 billion sticks sold in 2007. Last year's sales also hit a three-year high, crossing the two billion mark for the first time since 2005, when 2.09 billion cigarettes were sold. Though sales dipped in 2006, a year after tobacco taxes shot up by 20 per cent, they went up in the last two years.

FOREIGN workers are among the heaviest smokers here, and many say even a price increase of $3 per pack would not encourage them to cut back. Eight in 10 who spoke to The Straits Times said lighting up is one of their 'little pleasures' after a hard day at work. Singapore has a populaton of 4.61 million (July 2008). Foreign workers constitute about a quarter of the total labor force in Singapore. Cigarette giant British American Tobacco's survey of 1,000 foreign workers found that half of Chinese nationals smoke.

The smoking ban was extended on January 1,2009; the ban now includes all children's playgrounds, exercise areas, markets, underground and multi-storey carparks, ferry terminals and jetties. It will also be extended to non-air conditioned areas in offices, factories, shops, shopping complexes and lift lobbies. Smokers found flouting the rules are fined S$200 while the owners of the establishments are fined S$200 and S$500 for a subsequent offence. (More smoking rules coming 1st Jan 2009

The market for Tobacco in Singapore increased between 2001-2006, growing at an average annual rate of 2.7%. The leading company in the market in 2006 was Altria Group, Inc. The second-largest player was British American Tobacco plc with Thong Huat(JTI) in third place.

Reference: Smoking up despite public ban, price hike, Last year's sales at 3-year high; tobacco firms say it's due to more foreigners here by Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 1/20/2009.

After July 1, 2004, cigarettes sold in Singapore were required to display one of six health warning messages. The messages were required to cover at least 50% of the cigarette package front and back.

Singapore is one of the countries that bans the use of smokeless tobacco.

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