The Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch has raided two premises located in the vicinity of Serangoon North on Friday (25 November) and seized an estimated $50,000 worth of vaporisers.
The suspect, a 30-year-old male Singaporean, had stored the vaporisers at his house and another nearby storage area.
HSA stated that the suspect’s peddling of vaporisers was identified through HSA’s online surveillance and investigation. Its officers retrieved transaction records which revealed that the suspect had sold $30,000 worth of vaporisers and vaporiser accessories on seven online platforms.
According to HSA, this is HSA’s largest raid to date in terms of seizure value and the scale of the peddler’s business. He is currently assisting with investigations.
The raid is part of ongoing efforts by HSA to deter the illegal peddling of vaporisers in Singapore. From 2011 to date, HSA has prosecuted 13 persons for selling such products. The stiffest penalty meted out so far was $64,500 for the illegal sales of vaporisers.
HSA remind the public that vaporisers are strictly prohibited in Singapore under section 16 of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act.
The import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of any article that is designed to resemble a tobacco product, that is capable of being smoked, that may be used in such a way as to mimic the act of smoking or the packaging of which resembles the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products, which includes vaporisers such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigars and the like, are prohibited.
Any person who is convicted of an offence under section 16 is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for up to 6 months or to both for the first offence and a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for up to 12 months or to both for the second or subsequent offence.
Members of the public who seek information pertaining to the prohibition of vaporisers in Singapore way visit HSA’s website.
HSA stressed that the Authority will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who imports, distributes, offer for sale or sell vaporisers in Singapore. The public should also refrain from using vaporisers and discard any vaporisers they have in possession.
HSA also encourages members of the public who have information on the illegal importation, distribution or sales of vaporisers to call its Tobacco Regulation Branch at Tel: 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours (9:00am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday) or email [email protected]
Alleged dangers of Vaporisers
HSA said that despite claims by manufacturers, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of vaporisers in helping smokers quit tobacco use. Instead, such products are likely to lead to nicotine addiction among users, and may also encourage experimentation with other forms of tobacco, in turn leading to chronic diseases and premature death.
The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA stated that they are concerned that vaporisers could potentially be a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among the young. Smoking is known to increase the risks of chronic diseases and other health conditions, and is a major preventable cause of death.
The WHO had warned that the use of vaporisers could trigger heart attack, stroke and hypertension. In a report in 2014, the WHO stated that vaporisers contain cancer-causing agents and toxicants, and in some cases, as much as those in conventional cigarettes.
However, in contrast to the stance taken by WHO and Singapore’s public health authorities, United Kingdom (UK)’s public health jurisdiction, Public Health England (PHE) issued a report on 19 August 2015 led by academics from King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London, saying that e-cigarettes are not only 95 per cent less harmful than regular cigarettes but also have the potential to help smokers quit.
“In a nutshell, best estimates show e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes, and when supported by a smoking cessation service, help most smokers to quit tobacco altogether. We believe this review will prove a valuable resource, explaining the relative risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, in terms of harm reduction when compared with cigarettes and as an aid to quitting.” – Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, PHE
The Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire, Prof Jim McManus said in his speech during the E-cigarette conference 2015, “Do we take a hermeneutic of suspicion or do we take a hermeneutic of generosity in a rapidly scientific world and I believe I need to take the latter otherwise I cannot do my job and serve the people who pay my wages.”, Before this, he professes that public health directors are more than often a jack of all trades and should listen to what the researchers have to say.