32-year-old Singaporean jailed for importing chewing tobacco products in first such case

Checks on the accused's vehicle by ICA officers revealed 4,585 sachets of banned chewing tobacco hidden in various areas, including the rear side panel of the car boot and side door panels.
Checks on the accused's vehicle by ICA officers revealed 4,585 sachets of banned chewing tobacco hidden in various areas, including the rear side panel of the car boot and side door panels.PHOTOS: ICA

SINGAPORE - A man has been jailed for importing chewing tobacco products in the first such prosecution of its kind, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Thursday (July 20).

Kavinthiran, a 32-year-old Singaporean, was given a four-week jail sentence on Thursday for importing almost 5,000 sachets of "Hans Chhap Tobacco" worth an estimated $9,200.

The sachets contained a total of 55kg of khaini tobacco, a type of chewing tobacco prohibited in Singapore.

HSA said that this is the first time anyone has been prosecuted in court under the amended Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, which came into force on Aug 1 last year. It implemented the ban on emerging tobacco products, including chewing tobacco.

Kavinthiran was stopped by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers while driving a Singapore-registered vehicle from Johor Baru to Woodlands Checkpoint on Jan 3 this year.

Checks revealed 4,585 sachets hidden in various areas of the vehicle, including the rear side panel of the car boot and side door panels.

He had rented the vehicle for the purpose of importing the tobacco products into Singapore.

Kavinthiran had agreed with an acquaintance in Malaysia to transport the banned chewing tobacco into Singapore, and would be paid for a successful delivery, investigations showed.

HSA in its statement reminded the public that the import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of all chewing tobacco products is prohibited.

"The enhanced tobacco control measures are intended to discourage tobacco consumption and better protect Singaporeans from the adverse health effects of tobacco," said HSA.

Those convicted can be jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for the first offence.

Repeat offenders face double those penalties, and any chewing tobacco imported will be seized and confiscated.

Those who have information on such illegal acts can call the HSA's Tobacco Regulation Branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037.