Earlier this month, Safe Travels magazine issued advice for people planning on travelling to Singapore: Being caught drunk in public could land you up to 15yrs in prison, talking about politics in public requires approval from the Ministry of Manpower, and vaping is utterly banned.
A spokesperson said: “You can’t bring vaporisers, like e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigars, and refills into the country. These items are likely to be confiscated, and you could be fined or sent to prison.”
It seems some people aren’t avid readers of the Planet of the Vapes newsletter (a fact we find quite shocking), and must have missed Safe Travel’s notification. It’s a reality for those vapers who have been frequent visitors to Singapore over the years.
Channel News Asia reports The Health Sciences Authority (HCA) saying that 28 people have been arrested in the last four months for possessing vape devices. In fact, over the last eighteen months, the HCA states it has arrested 2,161 people in connection with ‘vape-related offenses’.
How do they catch these criminal masterminds? “Vapouriser peddlers are detected through HSA’s surveillance efforts, feedback from the public, and intelligence shared among partner agencies,” stated an HCA spokesperson. “Vapourisers detected via post or checkpoints by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will be referred to us for investigation.”
What is most disconcerting is that this action, combined with the legal sale and use of cigarettes, is driving vapers back into smoking tobacco. The network quotes one ex-vaper saying: “It was due to the difficulty of getting the vape and solution, and I started smoking 30 per cent more, after stopping vaping and returning to cigarettes.”
People looking for information about vaping in Singapore are going to struggle too, as one forum points out: “Posting names and contact info of former, existing or future local suppliers (if there are any at all) will result in thread being removed,” while another states, “No one is going to tell any Tom, Dick or Harry that walks into this forum such information. Bear in mind that the authorities are watching. We are not being paranoid. They are watching.”
Meanwhile, the entertainingly named Dr Chew Chin supports his governments stance because vaping contains things that are “highly addictive”, and has “includes cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep into lungs”. You have to wonder if Dr Chin has ever read the wealth of research pointing out that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
The Ministry of Health believes, “E-cigarettes and vaporisers can also lead to nicotine addiction and are a potential gateway to cigarette use.” They say, but fail to cite, that many studies from places including the UK confirm this. There are no authoritative studies from the UK linking vaping with smoking initiation, totally the opposite in fact.
Now there is no recorded data in Singapore showing vaping leading smokers away from tobacco the situation is unlikely to change – and British vapers are warned once more not to take devices into the country.