SINGAPORE - From Feb 1, it will be illegal to buy, use and possess emerging and imitation tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco products, chewing tobacco and shisha, as the first phase of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act kick in.
With the new amendments, anyone caught buying, possessing or using such products can be fined up to $2,000, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Friday (Jan 26).
Currently, only importation, sale and distribution of such products are illegal.
Those found guilty of carrying out such acts can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for the first offence.
Repeat offenders face twice those penalties.
The Act also prohibits any device or article that resembles tobacco products, including vaporisers such as electronic cigarettes, electronic pipes, electronic cigars and the like.
Amendments to the Act were passed in Parliament in November last year.
Other moves that will be carried out in further phases under the amended Act include gradually raising the minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The age will be raised from 18 to 19 on Jan 1 next year (2019). It will be further raised to 20 on Jan 1, 2020, and to 21 on Jan 1, 2021.
MOH said it "strongly urges smokers to quit smoking to reduce the risk of developing smoking-related illnesses".
It said it remains committed to lowering the prevalence of smoking in Singapore "through a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to discourage and reduce the use of tobacco products".
This includes imposing restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, offering smoking cessation services and fiscal policies such as taxes, and providing public education on the harms of tobacco use.
Those who need advice or support to quit smoking can visit the iQuit club website at www.hpb.gov.sg/iquit or call the toll-free Quitline on 1800-438-2000.
Anyone who has information on illegal importation, distribution, sale, purchase, use or possession of prohibited tobacco products - including e-cigarettes and other types of vaporisers - can make a report at the Health Sciences Authority's Tobacco Regulation Branch via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the phone numbers 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 during office hours.