1. From 1 January 2021, the Minimum Legal Age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products (MLA) will be raised from 20 to 21 years old.
2. Raising the MLA is part of Singapore’s ongoing efforts to reduce smoking prevalence. It aims to prevent youth from picking up smoking by limiting access to tobacco products, and to further de-normalise smoking particularly for those below 21 of age.
3. The change in the MLA from 18 to 21 years old was debated and passed in Parliament on 7 November 2017, as part of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill 2017. The MLA was subsequently raised from 18 to 19 years old on 1 January 2019, and from 19 years old to 20 years old on 1 January 2020.
4. The tobacco industry, including retailers, importers and wholesalers, have been reminded of the changes. Warning notices, stating that sale of tobacco to persons below the age of 21 is not permitted, have been distributed to retailers for display at their outlets.
5. Retailers who contravene the law and sell any tobacco products to a person below the MLA shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $5,000 for the first offence and $10,000 for subsequent offences. In addition, their tobacco retail licences will be suspended for the first offence and revoked for subsequent offences. If any outlet is found selling tobacco products to underage persons in school uniform or those below 12 years of age, its tobacco retail licence will be revoked, even at the first offence.
6. Persons caught giving or furnishing tobacco to a person below the MLA shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $500 for the first offence and $1,000 for subsequent offences. Persons caught buying or acquiring tobacco for a person below the MLA shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $2,500 for the first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences. Underage smokers who are caught using, buying or having in their possession tobacco products are liable on conviction to a fine of up to $300.
7. Members of the public can report errant retailers to the Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch using the online form at go.gov.sg/reporttobaccooffences. Alternatively, they can call 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours (9:00am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday).
8. Tobacco use is one of the highest contributors to ill health and premature death in Singapore. It is associated with cancers (e.g. mouth, lung), ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lung disease and many other diseases.
9. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is committed to lowering smoking prevalence in Singapore through a comprehensive, multipronged approach to discourage and reduce the use of tobacco products. Together with the Health Promotion Board, HSA, our partners and the wider community, we have adopted a range of tobacco control measures to reduce smoking prevalence. In addition to MLA, the range of tobacco control measures include public education, taxation, smoking cessation programmes, bans on tobacco advertising, point-of-sale display ban, and standardised packaging of tobacco products.