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Increase In Enforcement Actions Taken Against Smoking In HDB Prohibited Areas And High-Rise Littering In 2020

04 Feb 2021

In 2020, there was a 112 per cent increase in enforcement actions taken for smoking in HDB prohibited areas and 80 per cent increase in high-rise littering acts captured, compared to in 2019. This comes as NEA prioritises its resources to address rise in certain feedback arising from the COVID-19 measures implemented in 2020.

Singapore, 4 February 2021 – In response to behavioural and work-life changes arising from COVID-19, the National Environment Agency (NEA) adjusted its enforcement posture and prioritised resources to focus on areas with higher feedback in 2020. This led to a 112 per cent increase in the number of tickets issued for smoking in smoking-prohibited areas in HDB estates, such as common corridors, staircases and lift lobbies, compared to in 2019.[1] NEA also increased its high-rise littering camera deployment by over 50 per cent in 2020, compared to in 2019 [2]. This was in response to increased year-on-year feedback received for high-rise littering and smoking – 45 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively – in 2020 that can be attributed to more people working from home for the most part of last year. As a result, in 2020, the number of high-rise littering acts captured increased by about 80 per cent, and more than 1,000 enforcement actions were taken against high-rise litterbugs.[3]

2          Overall, more than 36,000 tickets were issued for littering and smoking offences in 2020[4], lower than the 49,000 tickets issued for littering and smoking offences in 2019 (refer to Figures 1 and 2 in Annex A for breakdown of enforcement actions for littering and smoking offences). The number of enforcement actions taken for high-rise littering offences in 2020 is provisional, as there are still cases under investigation. The decrease in 2020 is attributed to the COVID-19 measures implemented, such as during the two-month Circuit Breaker period, which led to fewer tickets being issued for littering and smoking offences overall. With more people working from home, there were also less enforcement actions for littering offences in traditionally high footfall locations, such as transport nodes and congregation areas outside of malls or open fields, but more enforcement actions taken against smoking at prohibited areas in HDB estates and for high-rise littering offences.

3          In carrying out our enforcement duties, there have been incidents where NEA enforcement officers encountered abuse (physical and/or verbal) in the course of their engagement with offenders. In 2020, there were 90 cases involving the abuse of our enforcement officers, of which more than 70 cases occurred when officers engaged smoking or littering offenders. This is a more than 10 per cent increase from the 79 abuse cases in 2019. NEA takes a serious view of those who verbally or physically abuse our officers and will not hesitate to take strong actions, which may result in criminal prosecution for possible offences.[5] Cases of abuse are reported to the Police, and we strongly urge members of the public to cooperate with our enforcement officers if approached.

4          NEA adopts a holistic approach in tackling public health offences, which includes enforcement, advisory and education. In 2019, NEA introduced informative standees in areas where Corrective Work Order (CWO) sessions were held, and revamped the design of the CWO vest to raise visibility of the CWO and increase its deterrent effect. In 2020, NEA trialled the deployment of informative standees at public areas with persistent littering feedback and enforcement carried out (including high-rise littering), to remind and deter people from committing littering offences. The standees highlight the number of littering incidents detected in the area and enforcement actions taken. The three-month trial started in October 2020, and NEA plans to roll this out islandwide in 2021. The deployment of the standees supplement NEA’s existing measures to curb littering offences, in addition to the deployment of enforcement officers and mounting of surveillance cameras, which are equipped with video analytics function that enable our officers to remotely check for instances of high-rise littering. (refer to Annex B for photos of informative standees for littering and high-rise littering). NEA has also improved its work processes through data analytics to shorten the waiting time for camera deployment and surveillance.

5          NEA also works closely with local stakeholders such as Town Councils, to distribute advisories or put up posters at housing estates where there is persistent feedback on high-rise littering or smoking in prohibited places. In cases where the issue persists despite repeated advisories and engagement, NEA would deploy cameras to detect such offences. The cameras are positioned to focus only on the external façade of the buildings to detect high-rise littering, or to focus only on common areas where smoking is prohibited, and not into homes to safeguard residents’ privacy as much as possible. In addition, NEA enforcement officers, both uniformed and non-uniformed, are deployed to conduct targeted enforcement at various littering and smoking hotspots.

6          While the deployment of technology has helped to augment our enforcement operations and capabilities by allowing us to optimise our limited enforcement manpower, it is not sustainable for NEA to deploy officers everywhere at all times. We can all do our part to help keep Singapore clean, by binning our litter and reminding smokers not to light up in prohibited places. Everyone has a part to play in upholding high standards of public health, and maintaining a clean, sustainable and liveable environment in Singapore.

[1] Under the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act, an individual who is found smoking in a prohibited place will be offered a composition sum of $200 or is liable to a fine of up to $1,000 if they are convicted in court.

[2] NEA deployed cameras at more than 2,700 locations with persistent high-rise littering feedback in 2020. In 2019, NEA deployed cameras at more than 1,700 locations.

[3] Under the Environmental Public Health Act, stiff penalties can be meted out for high-rise littering offences. The maximum fine for each littering act is $2,000 for the first court conviction, $4,000 for the second conviction and $10,000 for the third or subsequent conviction. The court may also issue a Corrective Work Order in addition to any court fines meted out.

[4] Figures are provisional as of 18 January 2021. Of the 36,000 tickets issued in 2020, about 49 per cent were for littering and high-rise littering offences, and 51 per cent were for smoking offences.

[5] (i) Voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty under Section 332 of the Penal Code, which carries an imprisonment term of up to seven years, and a fine or caning; (ii) Using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty under Section 353 of the Penal Code, which carries an imprisonment term of up to four years, or a fine, or both; and (iii) Using abusive language against a public servant under Section 6(3) of the Protection from Harassment Act carries an imprisonment term not exceeding 12 months, or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.

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Breakdown of Enforcement Actions (Littering and Smoking Offences)

Figure 1 - Littering Chart

Figure 1: Number of tickets issued per month for littering offences in 2020 (high-rise littering statistics for 2020 are provisional, as there are still cases under investigation – the investigation process is longer especially for high-rise littering)

Figure 2 - Smoking Chart

Figure 2: Number of tickets issued per month for smoking offences in 2020


Informative Standees for Littering and High-Rise Littering

Littering Standees