Underage smoking looks to have increased in Singapore, though the rise could be down in part to better detection systems, according to a story by Hoe Pei Shan and Pearl Lee for the Straits Times.
Some schools have turned to using detection devices to help them catch offenders, and some of the latest devices, which measure carbon monoxide levels, can detect smoking from up to two days previously.
Such devices are used also in Health Promotion Board smoking cessation programs that are run in schools.
One secondary school is planning to install cigarette smoke detectors in the common areas of five of its male toilets. It wants detectors that can log the exact location and time when someone smokes, and send an alert to the school’s general office and a message to a staff member’s mobile phone.
The representative of a company that distributes cigarette smoke detectors was quoted as saying that such products had been used in Singapore for more than a decade, but that demand from schools had been low because most found the devices too costly. But he said he began getting enquiries from schools last year.
A toilet with four cubicles should ideally have two detectors, he added, each of which might cost $500 to $700.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of the Singapore Children’s Society was quoted as saying that “it would take more influence than detection to curb the problem of underage smoking”.
Last year, more than 6,200 people below the legal age of 18 were caught smoking, about 17 percent more than the 5,311 caught during 2013, according to data from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Most underage smokers caught were 15 to 17 years old, but some were still in primary school.