Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Perception of Local Youths on Recreational Drugs and the Penalties for Associated Offences, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 04 January 2021



Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether any research has been done on local youths' perception on recreational drugs and the penalties for associated offences; and (b) what is the Ministry doing to address a potential disconnect between youths and the national attitude on use of recreational drugs.




1. Results from public surveys show that the majority of youths are aware of the harms of drugs and support taking a tough stance against drugs, although to a lesser degree than the rest of the population.


2. A 2018 public perception survey found that among youth respondents aged 13 to 30 years old, 96% felt that drug-taking should remain illegal in Singapore. This was slightly lower than the 98% of older respondents above the age of 30. 94% of youths agreed that drug-taking has a negative impact on society, compared to 98% for older respondents. 90% and 76% of youths agreed that imprisonment and caning are appropriate punishments for drug traffickers respectively. This compares with 94% and 81% for older respondents.


3. In another survey conducted in 2019 by the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA), about 83% of youths disagreed that it was alright to try drugs as long as one does not get addicted, as compared to 87% of those above the age of 30. Youths’ support for Singapore’s zero-tolerance stance towards drugs was 79%, compared to 84% for those above the age of 30.


4. While we are heartened that the majority of the youths surveyed view drugs negatively, there are indications that more youths are adopting more liberal views. They are more exposed through the internet and social media platforms, to the liberal drug views and policies of other jurisdictions, such as harm reduction strategies, decriminalisation of drug abuse, and even the legalisation of cannabis.


5. Over the years, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has put in place many preventive drug education, or PDE, programmes to reach out to youths. Schools have been a key touchpoint. CNB officers have been giving talks about drugs at school assemblies. In January 2019, CNB launched an exhibition incorporating augmented reality for secondary school students, to give them a more immersive understanding on the harms of drugs. The exhibition has reached out to more than 3,000 students so far and has received good feedback.


6. CNB has also worked with MOE to offer the After-School Engagement, or ASE programme, as part of the MOE GEAR-UP programme to support students from disadvantaged families.[1] The ASE programme provides a platform for students to learn about drug abuse and its consequences, through activities such as sharing by former drug abusers.


7. CNB also works with the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force to engage full-time national servicemen.


8. In April 2020, CNB commissioned a “Mythbusters” series that debunks misconceptions about different drugs. Through the use of explainer video clips, infographics and quizzes on CNB’s Facebook and Instagram pages, the series addresses myths about drugs from an evidence-based, science-driven angle.


9. CNB has also been working closely with NCADA. NCADA launched a media campaign in March 2020, built around Singapore’s first interactive film titled “HIGH”, directed by local filmmaker Royston Tan. The film garnered 165,000 unique views on its microsite by the end of the campaign in July 2020. The film was screened at various Institutes of Higher Learning in January 2020, reaching approximately 5,000 students. Each film preview was followed by a Safe Zone Discussion, an interactive platform for students to share their thoughts on the film, on drug abuse and anti-drug advocacy.


10. CNB engages influencers and the community to reinforce and spread the anti-drug message. For instance, Mr Aaron Aziz, a popular television celebrity, has been very active as an influencer for the Dadah Itu Haram campaign, helping to spread anti-drug messages both in person, and on his social media platforms. CNB and NCADA engage community partners and volunteers through the United Against Drugs Coalition and Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy Network, or A3 Network.[2] So far, CNB has recruited 207 youth advocates under the A3 Network.


11. We will continue to strengthen our PDE efforts.


[1] GEAR-UP is a series of consolidated after-school engagement programmes offered by MOE, together with other Government agencies and community partner to build an ecosystem of support around disadvantaged students and their families.

[2] The UADC is an anti-drug alliance that rallies support from local organisations to raise awareness of drug abuse in our society through their outreach platforms. The A3 Network unites passionate individuals from different walks of life to educate and empower them to advocate for a drug-free Singapore.