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This article gives a brief history of the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) and outlines the objectives and key strategies of the Programme.


Efforts to promote a smoke-free lifestyle in Singapore started in the 1970s when legislations were enacted to ban smoking in public places and prohibit tobacco advertising and promotion.

In 1986, the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), a comprehensive long-term programme for smoking control spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, was launched with the theme "Towards a Nation of Non-Smokers".

A National Smoking Control Co-ordinating Committee chaired by MOH was set up in 1996 to formulate policies, co-ordinate activities and monitor the NTCP. The Committee comprises representatives from eight government ministries, the trade unions and private sector employers.

In 2001, the Health Promotion Board was formed to oversee and coordinate health promotion programmes, including the NTCP, in Singapore.

Aim of Programme

The NTCP aims to reduce smoking prevalence in Singapore through the following measures:

  • Preventing the initiation of smoking among young people
  • Educating, motivating and assisting smokers to quit smoking
  • Promoting a climate conducive for non-smokers to remain free from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco

Key Strategies

The Programme uses a multi-pronged strategy to promote non-smoking in Singapore. This involves:

  1. Tobacco Taxation
  2. Legislation
  3. Public education
  4. Partnerships
  5. Provision of quit smoking services

Recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), these strategies are embodied in the world's first public health treaty, the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into force in February 2005. Singapore ratified the FCTC on 14 May 2004 and this signifies the commitment to join the global consensus in fighting the tobacco epidemic.

Smoking Prevalence

So far, these strategies have successfully reduced the smoking prevalence rate from 20% (37% males and 3% females) in 1984 to 12.6% (21.9% males and 3.4% females) in 2004. The smoking prevalence among Singaporean men and women are among the lowest in the world when compared with countries such as Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, United States, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

International Recognition

The Ministry of Health received the 'World No Tobacco Day' medal in 1990 for its concerted health promotion efforts to protect the health of Singaporeans by controlling smoking through education, legislation, taxation and establishing a supportive environment for a smoke-free lifestyle. In 1999, the Ministry of the Environment received the 'World No Tobacco Day' award for its commitment to establish smoke-free public places in Singapore. In 2008, the Health Promotion Board was awarded the WHO Healthy Cities Good Practice Award for "Comprehensive Tobacco Control in Cities using the MPOWER Package". The MPOWER package is a framework to help countries implement their tobacco control strategies.

Moving Forward

The ongoing public health education programmes complemented by health promotion measures such as the use of legislation, control of non-smoking areas, control of sale, fiscal measures and provision of cessation services have worked together to help keep the smoking prevalence in Singapore among the lowest in the world. This would not have been possible without the support of Singaporeans like yourself. Is there anything you feel that we have done well, or do you have ideas to make it better? We would like to hear from you.