SINGAPORE — Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai has urged the government to reclassify the import and sales of vaping paraphernalia such as e-vaporisers as a ‘serious offence’ under the Organized Crime Act 2015. Branding it a ‘powerful tool’ for law enforcement, Mr Pillai argued the move would empower authorities to crack down on individuals and networks suspected of fueling Singapore’s vape trade.

In a written reply to the parliamentary question, K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, responded that to classify the sales and import as a ‘serious offence’ under the Organized Crime Act, it must pose a serious threat to Singapore’s public safety and security.

“The offence must also be one that is associated with organised crime in Singapore. Offences in the Schedule include murder, drug-trafficking, and unlicensed moneylending,” explained Minister Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam added that based on this criteria, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Health Sciences Authority are assessing Mr Pillai’s suggestion of including offences involving vapes and associated products under the Organised Crime Act.

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Acknowledging the Minister’s emphasis on threat assessment, Mr Pillai argued that the “alarming rise” in illicit vaping activity, particularly among teenagers, warranted immediate action under the Organized Crime Act. He stressed that protecting future generations should be a top priority, even if it meant adopting stricter measures.

“I wish to highlight that there are several published articles describing vaping (which is highly addictive) as a gateway to substance abuse. For example, researchers from Columbia University in a study published on 19 May 2023 found, after tracking 50,000 US adolescents, that vaping nicotine is strongly linked to increased likelihood of binge drinking and cannabis usage,” shared Mr Pillai on social media. 

177 persons were found to be in possession of electronic vaporisers (evaporisers) in an inter-agency operation conducted by the Health Sciences Authority(HSA) and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at Changi Airport on 20, 23, 27 and 30 December 2023.
Photo credit: Health Sciences Authority

Singapore has taken a tough approach against vaping in the country and recently stepped up its enforcement on vapes at the border. In Dec 2023, 177 persons were found to be in possession of electronic vaporisers in an inter-agency operation conducted by the Health Sciences Authority and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority at Changi Airport (pic above). ICA officers at Tuas Checkpoint also uncovered 25 pieces of e-vaporisers and related components hidden below the driver’s and passenger’s seats of a Singapore-registered car.

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E-vaporisers are illegal in Singapore. Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, 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.