Alternative tobacco products to be banned

Alternative tobacco products to be banned
A customer picks from different flavors of electronic cigarette vapor April 24, 2014 in Miami, Florida.

SMOKELESS cigarettes are among alternative tobacco products - including those not yet available here - to be banned in Singapore from mid-December.

And from August next year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will extend the ban to similar products that are already on sale here but not commonly used by smokers.

The ban means that people will no longer be able to import, distribute or sell such products in Singapore.

"Besides protecting the public from the health risks associated with the consumption of emerging tobacco products, the ban is aimed at ensuring that the targeted... products do not gain a foothold or become entrenched in the Singapore market," the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It also hopes the ban will prevent these new products from leading non-smokers to take up smoking.

The ministry's pre-emptive moves follow last November's shisha ban, which drew flak from regular shisha smokers for being "draconian" and "extreme".

The first phase of the latest ban will start from Dec 15. It will cover any products containing tobacco or nicotine that may be applied topically, injected, or implanted into the body.

It will also include any tobacco- or nicotine-containing substances meant to be used in e-cigarettes or other electronic nicotine delivery systems.

This means that alternatives to traditional cigarettes, such as smokeless cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco or nicotine, will not be allowed.

None of these products is available in Singapore yet, said MOH in the statement.

The only exceptions to the ban are tobacco products, tobacco derivatives and medicinal products registered under the Medicines Act.

A second phase of the ban regulating alternative tobacco products that are already being used in Singapore will kick in from August next year.

This is to give retailers time to "adjust their operating models and deplete their existing stocks", said the ministry.

Products being banned under this phase include nasal and oral snuff, as well as gutkha, khaini and zarda.

The last three are flavoured tobaccos, often combined with other ingredients, that are sucked or chewed.

Dr K. Thomas Abraham, chief executive officer of non-profit organisation Sata CommHealth, welcomed the Government's move to ban emerging tobacco products.

"This prevents people from even contemplating bringing these products into Singapore," said Dr Abraham, who is a strong anti-smoking advocate.

"But the growing number of younger people picking up smoking is also worrying, and we should do more about that," he added.

This article was first published on June 16, 2015.
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