Singaporean dad's dream now a reality: first ever smoking cabin launched to eliminate secondhand smoke
This dad wants to stop secondhand smoke from killing more people in Singapore.
The below shares a Singaporean father’s story on how he came up with this concept and his journey towards tackling a nationwide issue—secondhand smoke. An issue close to his heart, and one that is especially worrying when it comes to his children’s health.
One Singaporean father was sitting in the living room of his HDB flat one day, watching his kids’ favourite TV show with them. His youngest was only a year old back then. He smelled cigarette smoking wafting into his living room from the balcony area from the unit below. By the time he rushed to close the balcony doors, it was too late. His house was already filled with secondhand smoke. Worried by his children’s health, it spurred Stefen Choo, director of Smoking Cabin Singapore, to start his business.
Stefen’s story is not an isolated one. Many Singaporean families have to endure secondhand smoke in their own homes. Why?
The Singapore government has banned citizens from smoking at void decks, stairwells and other common areas in the residential estate. The only place left for smokers to light up is in their own homes.
However, the smoke hardly stays within the confines of one’s home. Smoke tends to travel, whether with the wind to your next door neighbour’s home or upwards to your upstairs neighbour’s unit. Whatever the direction it is travelling in, other people are subject to the discomfort of breathing in secondhand smoke.
For infants and children, breathing in secondhand smoke is not only dangerous, it is deadly.
Concerned about this, Stefen set about to find a solution. How can one man fix a problem that has plagued an entire nation, despite so many measures in place by the government? His hope is to achieve a secondhand- and thirdhand-smoke-free nation through Smoking Cabin Singapore.
Smoking Cabin Singapore is the island’s first cabin which is dedicated to smokers. There are indoor and outdoor versions, but Singapore will only carry the outdoor version since smoking is prohibited indoors (for most places). Right now, smokers who wish to enjoy a stick of cigarette have to do so by going to a designated smoking area (DSA), which are usually yellow boxes outside buildings or a little shaded area. Most of the time, it’s just an open air area or a pavement outside a building or mall.
But this means, passers-by will still have to endure the secondhand smoke.
Orchard Road will be imposing a smoking ban starting January 1, 2019 along the main stretch of the road. which will seek to eliminate secondhand smoke from the area. Members of Parliament have also been pushing this cause over the course of the year. However, adding in more DSAs or bans in certain places will not eliminate secondhand smoke.
Having a Smoking Cabin placed outside malls and office buildings will give smokers a designated place to smoke that they will want to use, while cutting out secondhand and thirdhand smoke. The cabin is designed such that smokers are encouraged to use it, as it is air-conditioned and has an air filtration system that cleans the air. According to Stefen, the cabin boasts a room of clean filtered air every one minute and the air is also filtered before being released back into the general atmosphere. DSAs that have been set up throughout the country currently do not protect members of the public from secondhand smoke.
Stefen aims to also have Smoking Cabins placed at every void deck in Singapore. People would be given a comfortable place to smoke, while others, like his family, would not have to suffer the consequences of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke has been linked to a number of dire consequences. Exposure to secondhand smoke raises the risk — by as much as 30 percent — of getting cancer of the lung and other types of cancers. Six people in Singapore die each day from smoking-related conditions, and this number has not changed since 2010.
Kids. in particular, are at a higher risk of the effects of secondhand smoke because their little, delicate bodies are still growing and they breathe at a faster rate than adults.
To date, these conditions have been linked to secondhand smoke exposure in children:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- More respiratory infections (such as bronchitis and pneumonia)
- More severe and frequent asthma attacks
- Ear infections
- Chronic cough
This video shows you how the Smoking Cabin works. Right now, Smoking Cabin Singapore is still a concept and no physical units have been set up for public use (as at December 2018). However, it is already in a few places in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. According to Stefen, regulatory bodies are stuck in a grey area when it comes to his product. On one hand, authorities cannot be seen to be “promoting” smoking by setting up comfortable designated smoking areas, no matter the benefits it brings to non-smokers. On the other hand, many private companies don’t see enough of a return on investment to spend money on a Smoking Cabin to be placed outside their building or mall.
However, with the support of Singaporeans, Stefen is confident that Smoking Cabin will become a reality in the Singapore market. If you strongly agree that you want to eliminate secondhand smoke from your workplace or housing area, tell the Smoking Cabin team where you would like to see these cabins placed. With enough votes, Stefen and his team will be able to show that there is a demand for the product. Visit their website and let them know which area you want a Smoking Cabin installed.