Illegal peddler who sold about $100,000 worth of e-cigarettes busted

Illegal peddler who sold about $100,000 worth of e-cigarettes busted
The seized products

SINGAPORE - An online peddler who sold e-cigarettes worth about $100,000 has been arrested by the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch at a Gangsa Road HDB flat today.

According to a statement by HSA, their online surveillance and investigation revealed that a Singaporean male aged 31, had illegally purchased the prohibited products from various overseas suppliers.

The suspect then assembled and modified the e-cigarette products to sell them online. HSA has since shut down the website. The suspect is currently assisting with investigations.

The previous raid which took place in December last year led to the arrest of two e-cigarette peddlers who sold more than $90,000 worth of e-cigarettes.

Since 2011, HSA has prosecuted eight persons for selling such products. The stiffest penalty meted out so far was $64,500 for the illegal sales of e-cigarettes, HSA said.  

HSA added in its statement that it is an offence under the Tobacco Act to import, distribute or sell e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and e-cigars. The penalty is a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offence and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent offence for each count of offence.

Refuting claims that e-cigarettes is a safer alternative to conventional cigarette smoking, HSA said that there is no conclusive scientific evidence till date.

"A 2011 study conducted by HSA also found poor correlation between the actual nicotine content and the labelled amount among different e-cigarette products," the statement read.

"The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA are concerned that e-cigarettes could potentially be a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among the young."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also stated that it does not support e-cigarettes as a legitimate form of therapy to help smokers quit as the evidence available to date is insufficient to support the claim.

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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