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Vaping is to be banned in Singapore. Again.

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It has been accepted as fact that electronic cigarettes were banned in Singapore but this was not the case. They were simply banned. Now they are set to be double-banned from this December. Confused? Probably not as much as the Singaporean vapers who exist despite the prospect of £2,500 fines.

The confusion arises because Singapore drew a clear distinction between the vaping equipment it allowed to be sold within the country and imports. It also delineated the precise locations where it was permissible to smoke. And, as with smoking, these restrictions continually get tougher. But most of all it’s banned.

Life in the country was encapsulated in the Guardian: “Imagine you could remove all the daily irritations from the city in which you live. No one pushing or talking loudly on the efficiently run public transport system; no rubbish or sticky gum to be trodden underfoot on the well-kept, clean streets. And virtually no crime. Such a city would, probably, resemble Singapore, one of the wealthiest per capita metropolises on the planet – a city-state that gleams with abundant material goods. ‘Nothing goes wrong here,’ says Eric, a German expat. ‘Which sort of means that nothing really happens here.’”

It is a country that modelled its parliament on the British version – only The People's Action Party have been in power since the 50s and trial by jury was abolished in the 70s. It’s not a country geared up for debate or intellectual honesty, it’s a nation where you do what you’re told. Because? Stuff.

The beauty of the system lies in that it effectively documents the growth in need of and interest in vaping. Listed figures for electronic cigarettes confiscation show 10 were collected in 2009, rising to 2,428 in 2013. Meanwhile a growing rebellious youth culture flouts the rules and posts to social media. Late 2014, two businessmen were arrested for offenses under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sales) Act to import, distribute or sell e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and e-cigars. The penalty is a fine of up to £2,500 for the first offence and a fine of up to £5,000 for a second or subsequent offence.

In March, POTV reported that Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Health Secretary, said: “We are concerned about the health risks of such products and have been studying ways to address this growing trend.”

The health risks are detailed in official government publications and online. They contend, some would say laughably, that ecigs pose a risk due to the volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles. They also state that there are “health concern for those exposed to the second-hand aerosols as they absorb nicotine at levels comparable to people exposed to second-hand smoke.”

What is no longer in doubt is the nature of Ibrahim’s intentions as the current ban is set to be a proper all-encompassing ban from December 2015. All vaping products will no longer be imported, distributed or sold in Singapore. Full stop.

It is a move that has encouraged Clive Bates, vaping advocate, and Professor Gerry Stimson to write a six-paged letter to the Singaporean Minister for Health and the Permanent Secretary for Health. They opened by saying: “Although Singapore has been a long-standing leader in tobacco control, it cannot be assumed that these new bans, and the existing ban on e-cigarettes, are in fact an enhancement. We suggest that it is much more likely that these measures will reverse progress in Singapore, protect the cigarette trade and lead to more disease and premature death in Singapore.”

Having managed to ignore all of the scientific evidence on their journey to outlaw vaping it remains highly unlikely that they will listen to two men from Britain. A flicker of hope may exist for the nation’s vapers in that The People's Action Party pulled their smallest ever share of the vote in the last election.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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