Smoke rises from a burning cigarette as a woman smokes on the street in Bordeaux
Picture for representation Reuters

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday that buying, using and possessing tobacco products like e-cigarettes, shisha and chewing tobacco will be illegal from Feb 1. This latest prohibitions on such "emerging and imitation" tobacco products comes as a part of the first phase of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, which were passed in Parliament in November 2017.

With the new amendments, if anyone is caught buying, possessing or using such products can be fined up to $2,000. At present, those who are found importing, selling or distributing prohibited products are punished.

"(Members of) the public are encouraged to discard any prohibited tobacco products that they currently have in possession," MOH said.​​​​​​​

Offenders found guilty of importing, selling and distributing the products can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for the first offence. However, repeat offenders can be fined a maximum of S$20,000 and jailed for up to one year.

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.

In the next phases, the minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will also be raised from 18 to 21 years old. On Jan 2019, the age will be raised from 18 to 19 and then subsequently to 21 years old on Jan 1, 2021.

The health ministry said that these changes aim to "further reduce opportunities for youths to take up smoking before they turn 21" and to "better protect our population from the harms of emerging and imitation tobacco products".

People, who need advice or support to quit smoking can visit the official iQuit club website (www.hpb.gov.sg/iquit) or call the toll-free Quitline on 1800-438-2000.

Members of the public are requested to report at the Health Sciences Authority's Tobacco Regulation Branch if they have information on illegal importation, distribution, sale, purchase, use or possession of prohibited tobacco products - including e-cigarettes and other types of vaporisers. They can either contact via e-mail at hsa_trb@hsa.gov.sg, or call at 6684-2036 / 6684-2037 during office hours.