4 shops suspended over cigarette sales to minors

The Health Sciences Authority has suspended the tobacco licences of (clockwise from top left) Ajmir Store at Admiralty MRT station (above), 1588 Le at Block 158B Rivervale Crescent, 7-Eleven at Block 68 Geylang Bahru and NH Mart at Block 620 Hougang
The Health Sciences Authority has suspended the tobacco licences of (clockwise from top left) Ajmir Store at Admiralty MRT station (above), 1588 Le at Block 158B Rivervale Crescent, 7-Eleven at Block 68 Geylang Bahru and NH Mart at Block 620 Hougang Avenue 8 for six months. They had sold cigarettes to underage buyers.PHOTOS: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

Four shops have had their tobacco licences suspended for six months for selling cigarettes to underage customers between January and last month.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a statement yesterday that the errant retailers were caught through ground surveillance and enforcement efforts.

The minimum legal age to use, possess and buy tobacco products is 19.

The suspended outlets are Ajmir Store at Admiralty MRT station, 1588 Le at Block 158B Rivervale Crescent, 7-Eleven at Block 68 Geylang Bahru and NH Mart at Block 620 Hougang Avenue 8.

They will not be allowed to sell tobacco products during the six-month suspension, which started from between January and this month.

In the statement, HSA said that it takes a stern approach towards errant retailers and will not hesitate to prosecute them. It reminded tobacco retail licensees that they are responsible for all transactions of tobacco products that take place at their outlets. It added that sellers risk contravening the laws if they assess a buyer's age by his physical appearance, and that they should verify the age of the buyer.

The minimum legal age was raised to 19 from Jan 1. It will be raised to 20 from next year and 21 from 2021.

From 2015 to last month, 87 tobacco retail licences were suspended and 13 have been revoked.

Anyone caught selling tobacco products to those under the minimum legal age may face a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences. In addition, retail outlets will have their licences suspended for six months for the first offence and revoked for the second offence.

Those caught selling tobacco products to underage buyers in school uniform or those below 12 years old will have their licences revoked, even for the first offence.

An updated list of errant tobacco retailers is available on the HSA website. Those who have information on the illegal sale or supply of tobacco products to underage people may call the HSA's tobacco regulation branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 during office hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline '4 shops suspended over cigarette sales to minors'. Print Edition | Subscribe