Largest ever haul of illegal chewing tobacco seized in Singapore

·2-min read
Bundles of chewing tobacco seized by HSA at a Woodlands storage facility. (PHOTO: Health Sciences Authority)
Bundles of chewing tobacco seized by HSA at a Woodlands storage facility. (PHOTO: Health Sciences Authority)

SINGAPORE — The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has made its largest seizure of chewing tobacco, comprising more than 118,000 sachets with an estimated total street value of about $200,000.

In a media release on Thursday (27 February), the agency announced that it also seized electronic vaporisers and related accessories amid two operations on 19 February to disrupt the peddling of such banned tobacco products.

Ambush at Woodlands storage facility

In the first operation, HSA officers laid an ambush at a storage facility in Woodlands suspected of being used to store chewing tobacco, which is banned in Singapore.

They observed a truck entering the storage facility, and a man exiting the premises pushing a trolley with wrapped bundles soon after.

The man was arrested and the bundles were found to contain chewing tobacco. In total, more than 118,000 sachets of Khaini and Gutkha chewing tobacco were seized from the storage facility and the truck.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the chewing tobacco was to supply the Little India and Tuas areas. Investigations are ongoing.

WeChat e-vaporiser peddler caught

In a separate operation, acting on a tip-off, HSA officers apprehended a peddler using the WeChat messaging platform to sell e-vaporisers and associated accessories.

A search conducted on the accused’s vehicle and residence revealed more than 3,600 e-vaporisers and related accessories intended for sale. The items, which have an estimated street value of $50,000, were seized.

The accused, a 46-year-old male Singaporean, is believed to have acquired his supply of e-vaporisers and related accessories from overseas. He is currently assisting HSA in investigations.

Penalties for such offences in Singapore

The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act prohibits the import, distribution, possession for sale, sale or offer for sale of emerging tobacco products. This includes purchases made through the Internet and from overseas.

Products covered under the ban include shisha tobacco, smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco (such as Gutkha, Khaini and Zarda), e-vaporisers and their accessories.

Those convicted can be jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for their first offence. Repeat offenders can be jailed up to 1 year and/or fined up to $20,000 for each count of the offence.

The purchase, possession and use of such products are also prohibited in Singapore. Any person who is convicted is liable to a fine of up to $2,000.

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