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Spitting Image

Dec 3, 2016 5:50 AM

Aug 1958 To swallow or spit? That was the question in Singapore when men (and some macho women) thought nothing of expectorating anywhere on the street whenever they felt a tickle in their throats.

But rather than face a future of dodging spitballs, the Singapore City Council - under then-mayor Ong Eng Guan - launched a Mass Health Movement in August 1958, with a good portion of its S$105,000 budget devoted to an anti-spitting campaign.

The first task was to put up a giant poster (35 sq ft) - right in front of the City Council (City Hall) building itself - to get the message across without any words. Banners and posters were also plastered all over - on hoardings, bridges, telegraph poles, and even trees. Serious offenders didn't have to worry too much though. It only became a punishable offence after the Environmental Public Health Act was passed in 1987.