Untrue: The NEA using cameras to spot smokers at home

Rumours have circulated on social media earlier this week, claiming that the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore had put up cameras in Housing Board (HDB) blocks to catch people smoking in their bedrooms.

Rumours have circulated on social media earlier this week, claiming that the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore had put up cameras in Housing Board (HDB) blocks to catch people smoking in their bedrooms.

Recently on Twitter, user @kiisamii claimed that his brother's friend was fined $200 for smoking near his room and that the NEA had photographic evidence of him doing so. Another user shared the photo of NEA's logo which was placed along the corridor of a Housing Board Block (HDB) flat with the caption: "So they just summoned someone and this was the camera that they installed to catch those smoking in bedrooms and all... NEA you so despo is it? On ground didn't catch enough? (sic)"

However, the NEA on its Facebook page said the cameras spotted are used only for high-rise littering enforcement. "NEA currently deploys surveillance cameras in areas with persistent high-rise littering to catch the culprits," it said. They also added that such cameras are positioned to focus only on the external facade of the housing units or common areas that are being investigated.

Assessment
Our assessment is that the genesis of this misinformation is timed to the new smoking rules that will come into effect from October 1st in Singapore. The NEA had recently specified that smoking will be banned in all areas of universities the in designated smoking areas. These new rules are an extension to the Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act. We also believe that the surveillance cameras in the HDB could be to reduce the exposure of the public to passive smoking.