Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Joan Pereira
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC
Question No. 573
To ask the Minister for Health with vaping being on the rise in Singapore, how is the Ministry (i) clamping down on the smuggling of e-cigarettes and (ii) educating and informing youths about the harmful carcinogenic chemicals contained in e-cigarettes.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are often referred to as electronic vaporisers (e-vaporisers), e-cigarettes or vapes. It is an offence under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Amendment Act (TCASA) 2017 to sell, use, possess for sale, import or distribute imitation tobacco products. This includes ENDS and Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs).
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) works closely with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to interdict ENDs and HTPs at the checkpoints. ICA staff are trained to identify prohibited tobacco products and there is a joint ICA-HSA standard operating procedure (SOP) on the handling of such smuggling cases. HSA enforcement officers also conduct active surveillance and work closely with online purchasing platforms, including Carousell, Instagram, Lazada and Shopee, to address the illegal sales of ENDS and HTPs. In 2020, more than 2,000 postings were removed.
Research by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) among youths in 2019 found that more than 70 per cent of respondents were unaware that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, carcinogens and fine particles. Leveraging these insights, HPB developed a public education campaign in 2019 to create awareness and understanding on the health harms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). Targeted at youths aged 18 to 25 years old and parents with teenage children, the campaign’s objective was to raise awareness of the harmful ingredients found in e-cigarettes, including benzene and formaldehyde which are known carcinogens. Information on the negative effects of vaping is also available on HealthHub.
HPB also works closely with the Ministry of Education and Institutes of Higher Learning to raise awareness among youths about the benefits of leading a tobacco-free lifestyle and encourage them to stay vape-free. This involves organising online learning activities on the harms of vaping, through gamification methods (e.g. virtual escape rooms) to educate the youths. HPB also provides resources for self-directed learning, and trains educators so that they are equipped to discuss the harms of vaping with their students. HPB’s smoking cessation programmes for youth smokers adopt a strengths-based approach to build confidence for behaviour change.
The Ministry of Health would like to remind the public that the importation, sale, distribution, purchase, use and possession of e-vaporisers and its accessories are prohibited under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act. We will continue to work with our partner agencies to control access to, as well as educate the public on the negative health effects of these emerging products. Additionally, we will also need the support of the public to remain vigilant and alert authorities, should they be aware of any illicit ENDS-related commercial activities. Members of the public who have information on the illegal import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of prohibited tobacco products can submit an online form at go.gov.sg/reporttobaccooffences. Alternatively, they can contact HSA’s Tobacco Regulation Branch at Tel: 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours.