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National Smoking Control Campaign (NSCC) 2011 focuses on starting a ground-up quit smoking movement

Singapore, 5 June 2011: Raymond Ng, aged 37, has one regret in his life - he never had the chance to quit smoking together with his beloved father as planned. His father suddenly passed away from heart disease more than three years ago. His greatest wish now is for his 33-year-old brother, who smokes 40 sticks daily, to quit smoking for the sake of his two young children.

2. Raymond started smoking at the age of 12. At his peak, he was smoking 60 sticks daily. Today, Raymond is smoke-free for the third year running after three attempts at quitting. He has no intention to revert to his old ways. He is finding good use for the $700 monthly savings, his hypertension condition has improved, and his girlfriend is now glad to grant him more kisses.

3. Raymond wants to inspire and share his experience to help smokers quit. He says, “Anyone can do it. It is not an easy task but quitting won‟t kill you, smoking will.”

Smoking – The Singapore Situation

4. The prevalence of adult smoking in Singapore has risen from 12.6% in 2004 to 14.3% in 20101 , and this is despite aggressive measures to raise awareness of the harmful effects of smoking, and other measures such as increased taxation.

5. The National Health Survey 2010 findings have shown that smoking has risen most sharply in the age groups of 18-29 and 30-39 years. An increase has also been seen mainly among males. There is also a large proportion of smokers in households with income of below $2,000 a month.

6. HPB CEO, Mr Ang Hak Seng said, “HPB's focus is to get adults to quit smoking. Our mission is to stem the increase in smoking and achieve a reduction to below 10%."

7. “We are adopting a targeted ground-up approach. Our survey indicates that the majority of smokers are male. National service is a natural catchment to reach Singaporean males. For example, we are working with the Singapore Police Force Training Command in a customised in-camp smoking intervention programme that has seen a success rate of 94% in quitting and reduction in cigarette consumption. Our survey also shows that a large proportion of smokers come from the low income groups. Many of them currently receive financial assistance. We are now working with the CDCs to provide free smoking cessation counselling to recipients who are smokers.

8. “To achieve this ground-up approach, we need to work with the People, Public and Private sectors. Through more than 100 touchpoints, we can provide convenient and accessible programmes which will touch a smoker wherever he is, at home or at work. Our research has shown that in fact, more than half of all smokers want to quit. The I Quit movement will leverage on this desire and improve the quit rate.”

People – Accessible Resources within the Community

9. Studies have shown that it takes a smoker an average of six to seven attempts before successfully quitting smoking, and smokers are also more likely to quit successfully through a supportive environment. With this in mind, this year‟s NSCC adopts a community-based, yet personalised approach that encourages smokers to build a network of support to tap into, to make their first or next attempt at quitting smoking a success.

10. The measures being brought into effect via NSCC 2011 include the community-based I Quit Clubs (Refer to Annex I for more details). These are support groups organised by grassroots organisations to befriend smokers in their community and encourage them to quit smoking. Through these support groups, contemplators can access resources to help them quit. Grassroots leaders, with the support of HPB, are being trained to provide support and be a ready source of information for smokers who want to quit smoking.

11. Research shows that smokers who quit with support are more likely to succeed. The I Quit Club builds on this evidence as well as the success of HPB's earlier smoking cessation programme, Cabaran Segar (meaning ‘Fresh Challenge’), which focused on the Malay community and leveraged on relationships to support the quit process. Last year's Cabaran Segar saw a 20% success rate, which is double that of international norms for community settings. Cabaran Segar participants have since formed their own support network, reaching out to help other smokers, validating that a community-based programme works.

12. To ensure that quit counselling is readily available to all, free smoking cessation counselling will be extended to lower-income families via the Community Development Councils (CDCs). All five CDCs have adopted this project and will implement it in their respective communities (Refer to Annex II for more details).

13. With the prevalence of mobile and online communications in Singapore, and the need for smokers to have „anytime, anywhere‟ access to resources, HPB has a created an online quit community on Facebook. HPB has also leveraged a smartphone application that tracks real-time progress of a smoker‟s quit journey and delivers quit tips and motivational messages on a 24/7 basis. HPB's Quitline (1800-438 2000) has also extended its counselling service to new platforms including SMS (9463 3771) and Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger), which are available during office hours for those seeking support from a qualified quit consultant.

Public – Rallying the Troops

14. Given that the largest proportion of smokers is male and that national service is a natural catchment to reach Singaporean males, HPB will be working to strengthen programmes in collaboration with the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). For example, the Singapore Police Force Training Command has started a customised in-camp smoking intervention programme that leverages on both direct counselling and peer group support. HPB will also continue to mount an inter-agency effort with NEA, HSA and Singapore Customs to fight the tobacco problem.

Private – Workplace Programme takes Flight

15. HPB has worked with 50 companies on Workplace Smoking Control Programmes and is now embarking on an enhanced targeted programme. Industries with typically higher numbers of smoker employees, such as Manufacturing, Transport and Storage, Hospitality and Wholesale and Retail industries will be targeted for specific tobacco control initiatives for their staff. Under this programme, HPB is working with 10 multinational as well as small and medium-sized (SME) companies. Facilitators will receive training to build their capabilities to assess the smokers‟ needs and offer a programme to meet their unique working environment, such as shift work that does not afford time offsite. Not only will the programme be more accessible through partnership with quit counsellors to provide on-site counselling and nicotine replacement therapy, but also via the Quitline counselling services - phone and SMS - that will enhance timely support. Companies such as BD Medical and NatSteel have already signed on to this Workplace Smoking Control Programme (Refer to Annex III for more details).

16. Guardian, Watsons and Unity Pharmacies will offer free smoking cessation consultations to I Quit participants for a period of one year to support the I Quit movement. Their pharmacists are progressively being trained by HPB to be quit consultants, under our Pharmacist Health Ambassador Programme. Another supporting partner of the NSCC 2011 is Johnson & Johnson.

17. For more information on I Quit, please visit and the I Quit Facebook Page at

Issued by Health Promotion Board