Minimum legal age for smoking raised to 21 from tomorrow

MOH said raising the minimum legal age is part of Singapore's ongoing efforts to reduce smoking prevalence.
MOH said raising the minimum legal age is part of Singapore's ongoing efforts to reduce smoking prevalence.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will be raised from the current 20 years old to 21 from tomorrow.

This is the third and last change to the minimum age requirement under the amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, which were passed in Parliament in November 2017.

The minimum legal age was first raised from 18 to 19 years old on Jan 1 last year, and from 19 to 20 years old on Jan 1 this year.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday reminded the public of the changes, and said that raising the minimum legal age is part of Singapore's ongoing efforts to reduce smoking prevalence.

Other efforts by the ministry, together with the Health Promotion Board and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), include public education, taxation, smoking cessation programmes, bans on tobacco advertising, point-of-sale display ban, and standardised packaging of tobacco products.

"Tobacco use is one of the highest contributors to ill health and premature death in Singapore. It is associated with cancers, ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lung disease and many other diseases," MOH added.

Warning notices, which state that the sale of tobacco to persons below the age of 21 is not permitted, have been distributed to retailers for display at their outlets.

Underage smokers convicted of using, buying or possessing tobacco products face a fine of up to $300.

Retailers who are guilty of contravening the law and selling tobacco products to a person below the minimum legal age face a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offence and $10,000 for subsequent offences.

In addition, their tobacco retail licences will be suspended for the first offence and revoked for subsequent offences.

However, if an outlet is found selling tobacco products to underage persons in school uniform or those below the age of 12, its tobacco retail licence will be revoked, even for the first offence.

Those guilty of giving or furnishing tobacco to a person below the minimum legal age face a fine of up to $500 for the first offence and $1,000 for subsequent offences.

Persons convicted of buying or acquiring tobacco for a person below the minimum legal age face a fine of up to $2,500 for the first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences.

Members of the public can report errant retailers to HSA's Tobacco Regulation Branch via the online form at go.gov.sg/report tobaccooffences

Alternatively, the public can call 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 from 9am to 5.30pm on weekdays.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2020, with the headline 'Minimum legal age for smoking raised to 21 from tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe