Two caught with over 1,000 vaporiser items

Vaporisers and accessories seized from a suspect's HDB flat on Tuesday. Two suspects were caught peddling their wares online.
Vaporisers and accessories seized from a suspect's HDB flat on Tuesday. Two suspects were caught peddling their wares online.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

$28,000 haul by the health authorities is biggest in value so far

Two illegal vaporiser sellers were caught and more than 1,000 pieces of supplies - valued at about $28,000 - were seized on Tuesday .

The haul was the result of raids by the Health Sciences Authority's tobacco regulation branch, HSA said in a statement yesterday .

It was the biggest seizure in value so far, the HSA said in response to queries.

The two suspects had been peddling vaporisers and accessories on social media and were nabbed following HSA's online surveillance and investigations.

One of them, a 28-year-old man, operated his business out of a Housing Board flat in Pasir Ris.

Preliminary investigations showed that he obtained the items illegally from Malaysia and was selling them onlinein Singapore.

Acting on information provided by the first suspect, enforcement officers raided a mobile phone shop in Geylang and caught a 39-year-old man.

The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA have expressed concern that vaporisers could lead people, particularly the young, to develop a smoking habit.

He had also used social media to attract customers to his shop to buy vaporisers which he, too, obtained from abroad.

All the suspects' online advertisements have been removed, and the pair are helping in investigations.

Since 2011, HSA has prosecuted 10 people for selling such products. The stiffest penalty meted out so far is a $64,500 fine for the illegal sales of vaporisers.

Of the 10 offenders, most had peddled their products on websites.

The HSA said that it conducts online surveillance and works with relevant social media to deter users from peddling illegal products .

Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, the penalty for importing, distributing or selling any article that is designed to resemble a tobacco product 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 the offence.

The articles covered include vaporisers such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes and e-cigars .

The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA have expressed concern that vaporisers could lead people, particularly the young, to develop a smoking habit.

The HSA added that "there is no conclusive scientific evidence on the safety of vaporisers with regard to the users' long-term health or the effectiveness of vaporisers in helping smokers quit tobacco use".

It said: "Studies suggest that vaporisers containing nicotine may be dangerous, deliver unreliable doses of nicotine, or contain toxic chemicals or carcinogens that are potentially harmful to health."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2016, with the headline 'Two caught with over 1,000 vaporiser items'. Print Edition | Subscribe