SINGAPORE: The proposal to raise the minimum legal age for smoking in Singapore, as well as prohibit the purchase, use and possession of vaporisers and e-cigarettes will be up for public consultation from Tuesday (Jun 13).
The proposed changes to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act include raising the minimum legal age for the sale, purchase, use and possession of tobacco products from 18 to 21, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a news release on Monday.
The legal age would be progressively raised over a period of three years after the Bill has been amended, meaning it would be raised to 19 after the first year, 20 the next and 21 after a third year, MOH said.
In Singapore, 95 per cent of smokers had their first puff before they reached 21, and 83 per cent of smokers became regular smokers before they were 21, the ministry noted. With the proposed change, this would directly impact the ability of youths aged 18 to 20 to buy tobacco products, and more effectively reduce the social supply of tobacco to youths from their peers, it said.
Additionally, MOH said it was looking to close a loophole in the existing rules regarding vaporisers and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). It said that while the importation, distribution, sale and offer of sale for these were currently prohibited, it was not the case for the purchase, use and possession.
"As ENDS and vaporisers are durable rather than consumable goods, illicit trade in these products may result in a sizeable pool of people who possess and use ENDS and vaporisers in Singapore, leading to entrenchment," the ministry said, adding that similar loopholes exist for other emerging products such as shisha and smokeless tobacco.
A copy of the draft Amendment Bill is available on the MOH website, and all public feedback should reach the ministry by 5pm on Jul 10, the press release said.