Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Health

Consultation Period: 13 Jun 2017 - 10 Jul 2017
Status: Open
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Detailed Description

INTRODUCTION

1. The Ministry of Health (MOH) would like to invite the public to submit feedback on the proposed amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA). The public consultation will be held from 13 June to 10 July 2017, and feedback can be submitted via the online feedback form available at www.moh.gov.sg/tcasa2017 or via email, post or fax.

AIM

2. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is proposing amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA) to further enhance Singapore’s tobacco control measures. The TCASA:

• Prohibits advertisements, promotions and sponsorships relating to tobacco products and their use; 

• Controls the use of tobacco products by underaged persons; and 

• Regulates the sale, packaging and trade description of tobacco products. 


BACKGROUND

3. The TCASA was first enacted as the Smoking (Prohibition on Advertising) Act in 1971 and has since undergone several amendments over the years to keep up with evolving trends in tobacco promotion and use, and to strengthen tobacco control measures. 

4. The TCASA was last amended in 2016 to include provisions to ban the Point-of-Sale Display of tobacco products (“POSD ban”) to reduce the exposure of non-smokers, especially youths, to the advertising effects of tobacco products at the Point-of-Sale. The POSD ban also aims to reduce the likelihood of tobacco products being purchased on impulse by smokers who are trying to quit.

SCOPE OF THE CONSULTATION EXERCISE

5. To further strengthen our tobacco control measures, the Ministry of Health is proposing amendments to the TCASA to raise the minimum legal age (“MLA”) for the sale, purchase, use and possession of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age.  In addition, MOH is proposing amendments to prohibit the purchase, use, and possession of emerging tobacco products and imitation tobacco products that are currently prohibited from import, distribution and sale, as well as further technical amendments to fine-tune the Act. The key proposed amendments to the TCASA are as follows:

A. Raising of the Minimum Legal Age (MLA) for the Sale, Purchase, Use and Possession of Tobacco Products 

6. In Singapore, 95% of smokers had their first puff before they reached 21 years old, and 83% of smokers became regular smokers before they were 21 years old.  There is a growing body of evidence on the public health benefits of increasing the MLA. Besides the direct impact on the ability of youths aged 18 to 20 to buy tobacco from retailers, MLA21 would also more effectively reduce social supply of tobacco to youths from peers in the same social networks (e.g. in schools), hence preventing or delaying smoking initiation among adolescents. Over 200 jurisdictions worldwide have increased their MLA to 21 years.

7. MOH and HPB conducted a public consultation from December 2015 to March 2016 on potential tobacco control measures, including increasing the MLA. Raising the MLA from 18 to 21 garnered considerable support, with 87% of the feedback from the online consultation expressing support for the proposed measure. On the implementation of the raising of the MLA, a phased approach was favoured by 64% of the online respondents.

8. In view of the evidence for MLA21 and the support received in our public consultation, the Ministry of Health announced in March 2017 that it would propose amendments to TCASA to increase the MLA for the sale, purchase, use and possession of tobacco products to 21 years of age. The objectives are to:

a. Reduce experimentation by youths; and

b. delay the initiation of tobacco use,

 
thereby contributing towards the denormalisation of tobacco product use in the long term.

9. To minimise the impact on existing smokers aged 18 to 20 years, the MLA will be progressively raised over a period of three years after the Amendment Bill has been enacted and enters into force, i.e. MLA will be raised to 19 after one year, 20 after the second year and finally 21 after a third year. A new definition of “under-aged person” will be inserted in Section 2 of the TCASA, to provide for this phased increase in MLA (Section 2 of the Amendment Bill). As per current practice, retailers will be able to determine an individual’s age by reference to the date of birth. 

10. To ensure consistency, other provisions in the Act that make reference to “persons aged below 18 years” will also be amended to refer to “under-aged person” instead, namely as follows:

• Section 3 amends Section 10 of the TCASA to make it clear that the prohibition on supply to persons will apply to an “under-aged person” as defined by Section 2 of the Amendment Bill. 

• Section 4 will amend Section 11 of the TCASA to prohibit the use of tobacco products by an “under-aged person” as defined by Section 2 of the Amendment Bill. 

• Section 5 will amend Section 13(4) of the TCASA to require that the warning notice at retail outlets state that the sale of any tobacco product to “under-aged persons”, as defined by Section 2 of the Amendment Bill, is prohibited by law.

• Section 8 will amend Section 34(3) of the TCASA to clarify that this section would apply to “an under-aged person” as defined by Section 2 of the Amendment Bill.


B. Amendments to strengthen existing controls to prohibit purchase, use and possession of harmful tobacco products and imitation tobacco products

11. The importation, distribution, sale and offer for sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and vaporisers is prohibited under Section 16 of the TCASA. However, the purchase, use and possession of these products are currently not prohibited. 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 legally in Singapore, leading to entrenchment. Similar legal loopholes exist for other emerging products such as shisha and smokeless tobacco which are currently prohibited from being imported, distributed or sold under Section 15 of the TCASA. 

12. Section 6 of the Amendment Bill will amend Section 15 of the TCASA to inter alia include a new subsection which will prohibit the purchase, use and possession of harmful tobacco products, which include emerging tobacco products such as shisha and smokeless tobacco. 

13. Section 7 of the Amendment Bill will amend Section 16 of the TCASA to prohibit purchase, use and possession of imitation tobacco products, which include ENDS and vaporisers. This prohibition on the purchase, use and possession of imitation tobacco products will apply regardless of whether or not it contains tobacco products such as nicotine refills. 


PUBLIC CONSULTATION

14. The public is invited to participate in the online public consultation exercise on the draft amendments over 4 weeks, from 13 June to 10 July 2017

15. During the exercise, feedback can be submitted to MOH via the online feedback form available at www.moh.gov.sg/tcasa2017 or via email, post or fax. The modes of feedback are listed below:

i) By Post:

Ministry of Health
TCASA Public Consultation
College of Medicine Building
16 College Road
Singapore 169854

ii) By Email:

iii) By Fax:

6224 1677


DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD

16. For further reference, please click here to download the relevant documents related to this public consultation exercise: