# 20102010: Banning cigarette sale

Today is 20102010, my favourite date of the year. I was wondering what interesting stuff could I blog to log this day into posterity – or at least the archives of this blog. Problem solved when I read in the newspaper a radical proposal:

Ban sale of cigarettes to citizens born after 2000.

This is really a wonderful idea far surpassing more simplistic ones like an outright ban or levying higher taxes. One might complain why discuss a socio-political issue on a maths blog. Well, the maths connection is this: the creative genius who proposed the idea is none other than A.J. Berrick – well respected mathematician in singapore. He is also the co-author of the paper outlining the proposal.

If you read it carefully, the proposal means that foreigners can still purchase cigarettes, so it might not radically wipe out smoking. Furthermore it would mean that it is an offense to buy cigarettes but technically not an offense to smoke them. Would such a proposal that blatantly discriminate citizens work? Certainly not anywhere in the world but in Singapore – who knows? We managed to control chewing gum relatively well by banning its sale but not its import nor its consumption. It looked petty to outsiders, the country has been laughed at and I’ve spoken to at least one person who says that he would not like to visit Singapore because he likes to chew gum. Well that’s your choice! But that was a blanket rule, discriminate against your very own citizens? Well, we’ve done it again. The government built two casinos that allows free entry for foreigners but levy a $100 on citizens who wish to step into casinos. This means that if you employ a foreign domestic helper for$400 a month, she can go into the casino for free but not you! Again laughable but it’s been implemented. A dear friend once commented, only in Singapore can the government get away with this kind of ruling. Of course one must add that \$100 has not deterred many a would be punters from patronizing the two casinos.

I believe that banning cigarette sales is implementable. It’s simply a matter of political will. If the government really push ahead, then at least for the next election I would put aside any other misgivings and vote them into power.

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