Govt partnering Carousell, Instagram to curb sale of e-vapes, 465 people caught since ban

(PHOTO: HSA)

SINGAPORE — The government has been working closely with online platforms such as Carousell and Instagram to stamp out the online sale of electronic vapourisers, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin in Parliament on Tuesday (5 November).

Since 1 January 2017 to 30 September this year, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) handled 219 cases involving the sale of such devices, all of which were sold online.

465 people were also caught for possessing e-vaporisers as of end-September, since a blanket ban on the devices was implemented in February last year.

Penalties for offenders ranged from warnings, to fines, and prosecution.

The stiffest penalty imposed was $99,000, for a peddler who was charged on 9 September for importing and peddling e-vapourisers. The second highest was a $64,500 fine imposed on an offender in 2014.

The battery-powered vapourisers – which include e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and e-cigars – heat up a liquid that contains nicotine, commonly known as e-liquid, turning it into a vapour to be inhaled.

The HSA will continue to work with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the Singapore Police Force to deter the illegal import, sale and purchase of vaporisers, noted Amrin.

“Besides enforcement, the Health Promotion Board will continue to educate Singaporeans regarding the harmful effects of vaporisers, and correct any misconception that vaporisers conclusively help with smoking cessation,” he added.

“At the same time, we will strengthen smoking cessation programmes so that smokers can access proven therapies and methods to help them quit smoking.”

In response to Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Melvin Yong’s question about enforcement on illegal peddling of e-vaporisers in public places, Amrin noted that authorities have conducted intelligence-led surprise raids.

Amrin also stressed the ministry’s current position on e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation product.

“The ministry’s position is that there is currently limited evidence on the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes, as a smoking cessation product, but we will continue to monitor emerging evidence and studies,” he said.

“Our regulation and public health policies are evidence-based, and if there is robust evidence that any particular product can safely help smokers completely stop using tobacco and nicotine, we will be happy to consider these options.”

For selling, possessing for sale, importing or distributing e-vaporisers, offenders can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to six months or to both for the first offence, and fined up to $20,000 or jailed up to 12 months or to both, for the second or subsequent offence.

For using, purchasing or possessing e-vaporisers, offenders can be fined up to $2,000.

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