Intensifying Enforcement and Education Efforts against E-vaporisers

From 1 January to 31 March 2024, more than 2,200 individuals have been caught for possession or use of electronic vaporisers (e-vaporisers). 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 (IHLs).

2      In 2023, 7,838 persons were caught for the possession or use of e-vaporisers, a 60% increase from the 4,916 in 2022.

3       The cases were part of an intensified multi-agency effort by the Ministry of Health (MOH) 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.

Disruption of supply networks 

4       In the first quarter of 2024, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) succeeded in disrupting several illegal e-vaporiser distribution networks. More than $7 million worth of e-vaporisers and components were seized in total. (Please refer to the Annex for details of the cases.)

Enforcement at the borders

5       HSA works closely with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to detect and deter attempts at smuggling vaping products through Singapore’s borders. From January to March 2024, HSA and ICA conducted various joint operations at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, and Changi Airport.

6      Between 1 January and 31 March 2024, 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.

7       HSA would like to remind travellers that it is illegal to bring in prohibited tobacco products like e-vaporisers into Singapore. 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.

8       In the coming months, HSA and ICA will continue to conduct inter-agency operations at our checkpoints.

Enforcement in the community

9       Between 1 January and 31 March 2024, about 1,950 individuals were caught for possession or use of e-vaporisers at stepped up patrols at public areas, such as the central business district, entertainment outlets and around shopping centres.

10     Thirty-four persons, aged between 20 and 43 years old, were convicted in Court between October 2023 and March 2024 for selling e-vaporisers and related components in Singapore. The total fines amounted to around $340,000, and one was sentenced to 10 months’ jail on 1 February 2024, the longest jail sentence ever handed out for e-vaporiser related offences. (Please refer to the Annex.)

Enforcement in schools and IHLs

11     To strengthen deterrence amongst youths against vaping, from March 2024 onwards, all offenders (including first-time offenders in schools and IHLs) who are caught for purchase, use and possession offences for e-vaporisers are referred to HSA and subjected to a fine of up to $2,000. From 1 January to 31 March 2024, schools and IHLs have referred around 250 cases to HSA. The Ministry of Education (MOE) will also be notified when students are caught by HSA or other enforcement agencies outside school settings for vaping offences.

12     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.

13     Schools and IHLs will continue their regular detection and enforcement efforts through internal reporting channels and campus patrols. For students who are caught vaping, in addition to the penalty imposed by HSA, schools and IHLs will continue to mete out consequences through existing disciplinary frameworks, such as suspension or caning (for boys in schools). Students caught vaping will also be placed on cessation support programmes where counsellors will guide them through their cessation journey.

14     MOE will continue to support enforcement efforts at IHLs, which include joint enforcement operations by HSA and AUs where appropriate.

Issuance of Letter of Notice to social media services and e-commerce platforms

15     In 2023, more than 3,000 e-vaporiser-related online listings were removed, which is a significant increase from the 2,600 online listings removed the year before. Given that advertising and sale of e-vaporisers may take place on digital platforms, MOH and HSA have issued a Letter of Notice to 16 social media services and e-commerce platforms on 11 March 2024 to remind them that hosting vaping-related content is in breach of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act.

16     The onus is on social media services and e-commerce platforms to exercise due diligence and proactively remove vaping-related content. Enforcement actions may be taken against the platforms that are found with inadequate processes to detect and remove vaping-related contents.

School and public education efforts

Communication on stepped-up enforcement in schools and IHLs

17     In addition to enforcement efforts, schools and IHLs are working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to amplify anti-vaping messages in educational materials and preventive programmes, raise awareness of the harms of vaping, and provide cessation support for students who are caught vaping.

18     These programmes include QuitLine, a tele-counselling service, as well as on-site counselling by Student Health Advisors. During these sessions, youths learn about the detrimental effects of smoking and vaping, and pick up strategies to quit and manage withdrawal symptoms. In 2023, about 2,350 youths received smoking and vaping cessation counselling from these programmes, of which 38% have either reduced or quit smoking and/or vaping after one-month post-counselling.

19     MOE, together with HPB, has communicated to staff and students on Singapore’s firmer stance against vaping and step-up in enforcement. Parents have also been informed. In schools, HPB has shared messages on the harms and illegality of vaping with close to 90,000 students to date.

Vape-free campaign and public education

20     At the population level, HPB launched a comprehensive vape-free campaign in 2023 aimed at raising awareness of the harms and illegality of vaping. The campaign includes a partnership with ICA to promulgate messages at the checkpoints. Additionally, educational materials for parents were integrated into Parent Hub, a one-stop online parenting resource portal. HPB will continue to amplify its public education efforts through collaborations with various public agencies.

Penalties for e-vaporiser-related offences in Singapore

21     Under TCASA, the possession, use or purchase of e-vaporisers carries a maximum fine of $2,000. It is also an offence to import, distribute, sell or offer for sale e-vaporisers and their components. Any person convicted of an offence is liable to a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to six months or both for the first offence, and a fine of up to $20,000, or imprisonment of up to 12 months or both for the second or subsequent offence. All prohibited tobacco items will also be seized and confiscated.

22     Concurrent to the stepping up in enforcement and education efforts, MOH will review the penalties for e-vaporiser-related offences under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act to ensure continued strong deterrence against such offences.

23     Members of the public who have information on the illegal possession, use, purchase, import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of e-vaporisers can contact HSA’s Tobacco Regulation Branch at 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours (9:00am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday).

24     Information pertaining to prohibited tobacco products in Singapore is available on the HSA website and more details about the harms of vaping can be found on HealthHub. Persons who need help to quit vaping can join the I Quit programme.


9 APRIL 2024

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Consumer, Healthcare professional, Industry member, Tobacco control

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