Singapore sets SGD 2,000 as first-offence fine for all, including students, caught with e-vaporisers

Singapore has upped the ante on curbing the use of electronic vaporisers (e-vaporisers). Thousands of individuals have already been caught this year for possession or use of these devices; Singapore school students have also been brought within the purview of vaping penalty.

Electronic vaporiser
At least 2,200 individuals, including 250 students, have been caught using or possessing electronic vaporisers in Singapore in the first quarter of 2024. Photo courtesy: Pixabay/anestiev

According to a Ministry of Health (MOH) media release dated April 9, new rules have been enforced from March 2024, whereby “all offenders (including first-time offenders in schools and Institutes of Higher Learning) who are caught for purchase, use and possession offences for e-vaporisers are referred to the Health Sciences Authority and subjected to a fine of up to SGD 2,000”.

The release said that in the first quarter of this year — January 1 to March 31 — schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) had referred around 250 cases to the Health Sciences Authority. “The Ministry of Education (MOE) will also be notified when students are caught by the HSA or other enforcement agencies outside school settings for vaping offences,” said the release.

“IHLs have been reviewing sanctions, which include corrective work orders or mandatory community service, and the revoking of hostel privileges for recalcitrant student offenders from the Autonomous Universities (AUs) caught in possession of, or peddling e-vaporisers,” it added.

60 per cent increase in offenders caught  

Overall, from January 1 to March 31, 2024, more than 2,200 individuals have been caught for possession or use of electronic vaporisers (e-vaporisers) in Singapore. “These include individuals caught at the borders, and intensified patrols at public areas like the central business district, entertainment outlets, and around shopping centres, as well as student vaping cases referred by schools and Institutes of Higher Learning,” said the release.

MOH stated that in 2023, a total of 7,838 persons were caught for the possession or use of e-vaporisers, a 60 per cent increase from the 4,916 in 2022.

“The cases were part of an intensified multi-agency effort by the Ministry of Health and partner government agencies to enforce against the use of e-vaporisers, in order to protect our population from the harmful effects of e-vaporisers and prevent vaping from being entrenched locally,” it added.

Disruption of e-vaporiser supply networks

The MOH release informed that in the first quarter of 2024, the Health Sciences Authority succeeded in disrupting several illegal e-vaporiser distribution networks in Singapore. More than SGD 7 million worth of e-vaporisers and components were seized in total.

The HSA works closely with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to detect and deter attempts at smuggling vaping products through Singapore’s borders. Together, they conducted operations at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, and at Changi Airport.

In Q1 2024, a total of 40 e-vaporiser-related cases were detected at the borders during joint operations. Of these, 10 persons were caught for smuggling e-vaporisers into Singapore, while 30 persons were found to be in possession of e-vaporisers. One of the smugglers has been prosecuted and the rest are pending prosecution and enforcement actions.

Alerting people coming into Singapore, the media release said: “The HSA would like to remind travellers that it is illegal to bring in prohibited tobacco products like e-vaporisers into Singapore.”

It warned: “Travellers found with e-vaporisers or their components will be fined. Transport companies and drivers bringing in unknown items and prohibited tobacco products like e-vaporisers into Singapore will be subjected to enforcement actions. In addition, convicted foreigners will be deported and barred from re-entering Singapore.”

Between the last quarter of the previous year and the first quarter of this year, 34 persons, aged between 20 and 43 years, were convicted in Singapore for selling e-vaporisers and related components in the country. Their total fines amounted to around SGD 340,000, and one person was sentenced to 10 months in jail on February 1; this is the longest jail sentence ever handed out for e-vaporiser related offences.