Singapore Tells Travelers To Ditch Their E-Cigarettes Or Face Punitive Penalties

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Officials in Singapore are telling tourists to leave their electronic cigarettes behind when traveling to the country or risk hefty financial penalties.

New amendments recently passed by lawmakers in the country make all vapor products and smokeless tobacco illegal in Singapore. The rules are set to take effect Feb. 1 and violators, including tourists, will be fined $2,000 if caught by authorities. The restrictions are part of a broader effort in Singapore to crack down on tobacco and nicotine products, including an incremental age hike, reports The Korea Times.

Currently, the importation and sale of vapor products is illegal, but smokers who get their hands on the devices were free to use them without penalty. Under the amendments, possession and use of the products is banned, along with smokeless tobacco products and shisha.

“(Members of) the public are encouraged to discard any prohibited tobacco products in their possession,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said recently in a statement, according to The Korea Times.

The amendments are part of reforms to the country’s Tobacco Act made in November. Some former smokers who have been vaping in the country say they will likely go back to cigarettes under the ban.

Public health experts focused on harm reduction say that onerous restrictions on e-cigarettes undermine public health by removing safer alternatives from the marketplace.

They note that vaping largely eliminates the harms from conventional cigarettes because 95 percent of the carcinogens that cause tobacco-related illnesses are released through combustion. E-cigarettes simply heat liquid nicotine, creating an aerosol vapor.

Travelers who rely on a vape will face similar restrictions in a number of popular tourists markets around the world. The Israeli foreign ministry issued an advisory outlining Thailand’s strict policy towards vapor products Thursday after an elderly couple from Israel was detained, fined and threatened with arrest for possession of an e-cigarette.

The travel alert warns that tourists found in violation of the vaping ban are not exempt from Thailand’s severe legal penalties, that include being “fined, tried, and imprisoned.”

Lawmakers in Thailand officially banned the importation of vaping devices in November 2014. The measure was subsequently reformed to include a ban on selling vapes and exporting the devices. Bringing the device into the country or using it can carry a 10-year prison penalty, while selling or supplying the devices is punishable by five years behind bars.

In a world with vastly differing laws governing alternative smoking technologies, vapers should take extra precautions before vacationing with their favorite electronic nicotine device.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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