Electronic smoking devices including e-cigarettes are banned in Singapore, but sellers have found a way around the law by selling them online.
Young people, including teens below 18, can now easily find such battery-operated devices, which heat up a chemical, called an e-liquid, and turn it into vapour.
Also called "vaping" devices - as vapours are inhaled - these vaporisers and e-liquids can be obtained from online marketplaces like Carousell, Gumtree and Qoo10, as well as social media like Instagram and online forums here.
On Carousell, there are more than 30 such posts daily, with most selling e-liquids under vague search terms like "juice". E-liquid refills, sold for about $13 for a 10ml bottle and $25 for a 30ml bottle, come in flavours including bandung, root beer float and caramel macchiato, and may be laced with nicotine. After a deal is made, the listing would be deleted immediately.
According to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), there were more than 15,000 cases involving people bringing vaporisers, which include electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes, into Singapore illegally between 2012 and September 2015. In the same period, 39 peddlers were caught for selling vaporisers here.
HSA said the vaporisers were found in parcels mostly ordered online, and on people entering Singapore. The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act prohibits the import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of any item designed to resemble a tobacco product, including vaporisers. Buying e-cigarettes from overseas websites or bringing them into the country in hand luggage is also considered importing. Offenders may be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence, and up to $10,000 subsequently.
In a joint statement, HSA and the Health Promotion Board advised the public "against using vaporisers to quit smoking or reduce their nicotine addiction". They cited a report by the World Health Organisation in 2015 that said vaporisers can contain cancer-causing agents and toxicants, which in some cases were as much as those in conventional cigarettes.
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Source: " Banned e-smoking devices sold online" (The Straits Times, 11 November 2015)