Reader Lim Cheng Kee wrote in to askST: "Is smoking allowed inside and outside HDB apartments? I see neighbours smoking along corridors and at void decks, while some smoke next to the main door. It gets suffocating when they smoke continuously and the wind blows the smoke towards my apartment."
Housing reporter Ng Jun Sen finds out.
The short answer: Yes, smoking inside one's HDB apartment is allowed.
But step outside the home with a lit cigarette and one may run afoul of the law.
Common corridors, stairwells, staircase landings and void decks are all non-smoking areas as listed under the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act, which is administered by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Since June 1, 2016, the ban has also been extended to reservoirs and public parks, including those within private and public housing estates.
NEA officers do actively enforce this law. If caught, one may be fined $200 or up to $1,000 if convicted in court.
In 2015, about 17,000 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited areas.
This is, and has always been, part of the national drive to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke since the act was introduced in 1970.
So the question really is where one can light up legally.
Smoking is lawful in private areas such as your own home or in your car.
Certain open public spaces, such as uncovered walkways, surface carparks or at dedicated smoking points, allow smoking too.
The list of places where smoking is allowed and banned can be found on the NEA website (http://www.nea.gov.sg/public-health/smoking/smoking-prohibition).
While a neighbour who smokes at the corridor may be doing something illegal, calling the authorities might be a bad idea.
For the sake of neighbourliness, one might try to discuss the issue amicably.
Your neighbour may not know that the smoke is affecting you even if they are legally smoking within their premises.
If that fails, there is the Community Mediation Centre, where both parties will be brought together in the presence of a mediator who is experienced in resolving these conflicts.