SINGAPORE: From Feb 1, it will be illegal to buy, use and possess emerging and imitation tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco products, chewing tobacco and shisha, as the first phase of amendments to Singapore's Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act kick in.
With the new amendments, anyone caught buying, possessing or using such products can be fined up to S$2,000 (RM5,930), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Friday (Jan 26).
Currently, only importation, sale and distribution of such products are illegal.
Those found guilty of carrying out such acts can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to S$10,000 (RM29,640) for the first offence.
Repeat offenders face twice those penalties.
The Act also prohibits any device or article that resembles tobacco products, including vaporisers such as electronic cigarettes, electronic pipes, electronic cigars and the like.
Amendments to the Act were passed in Parliament in November last year.
Other moves that will be carried out in further phases under the amended Act include gradually raising the minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The age will be raised from 18 to 19 on Jan 1 next year (2019). It will be further raised to 20 on Jan 1, 2020, and to 21 on Jan 1, 2021.
MOH said it "strongly urges smokers to quit smoking to reduce the risk of developing smoking-related illnesses".
The law will also ban people from buying, using and owning imitation tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, e-cigars and e-pipes.
It said it remains committed to lowering the prevalence of smoking in Singapore "through a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to discourage and reduce the use of tobacco products".
This includes imposing restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, offering smoking cessation services and fiscal policies such as taxes, and providing public education on the harms of tobacco use. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network