SINGAPORE - In raids on Tuesday (Feb 23), the Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) tobacco regulation branch shut down the illegal operations of two peddlers, seizing over 1,000 vapouriser supplies worth about $28,000 - its largest seizure value yet.
The two suspects had been peddling vapourisers and vapouriser accessories on social media platforms 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. Preliminary investigations showed that he illegally obtained the prohibited items from Malaysia, peddling them online and delivering them to his buyers in Singapore.
Acting on information provided by the first suspect, enforcement officers conducted a second raid at a mobile phone shop where a 39-year-old man operated his business.
He had also used social media sites to attract customers to his shop to purchase vapourisers which he, too, obtained from overseas.
HSA has since removed all the suspects' online advertisements, and the pair are assisting in investigations, it said in a statement on Friday (Feb 26).
Since 2011, HSA has prosecuted 10 people for selling such products, with the stiffest penalty meted out so far being a $64,500 fine for the illegal sales of vaporisers.
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 offence.
This includes vaporisers such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes and e-cigars .
HSA added that "there is no conclusive scientific evidence on the safety of vapourisers with regard to the users' long-term health or the effectiveness of vapourisers in helping smokers quit tobacco use."
It said: "Studies suggest that vapourisers containing nicotine may be dangerous, deliver unreliable doses of nicotine, or contain toxic chemicals or carcinogens that are potentially harmful to health."