HSA clamps down on suspected e-cigarette seller in raid on flat in Bukit Panjang

SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) clamped down on the illegal operations of an e-cigarette seller, after raiding an HDB flat on Thursday.

E-cigarettes are banned in Singapore.

Officers from the HSA's Tobacco Regulation Branch seized transaction records from the flat at Gangsa Road in Bukit Panjang, which showed that the 31-year-old Singaporean male had sold about $100,000 worth of e-cigarettes.

The unlawful activities were detected through HSA's online surveillance and investigations.

Preliminary investigations showed that the suspect had illegally bought the prohibited products from various overseas suppliers to sell via an e-commerce website. He also assembled and modified the e-cigarette products and sold them online. HSA has shut down the website, and investigations against the seller are ongoing.

HSA said in a statement: "E-cigarettes are being marketed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarette smoking and as a way to quit smoking. However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit tobacco use.

"The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA are concerned that e-cigarettes could potentially be a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among the young."

Since 2011, eight people have been taken to task by HSA for selling such products.

The penalty is a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offence and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent offence for each count of offence.

Those who have information on the illegal import, distribution or sales of e-cigarettes can call HSA's Tobacco Regulation Branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037.

limyihan@sph.com.sg