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28 Dec 2018

28th Dec 2018

        From 1 January 2019, the Minimum Legal Age (MLA) for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will be raised from 18 to 19 years old. The MLA will subsequently be raised to 20 years old on 1 January 2020 and to 21 years old on 1 January 2021.

2.     Raising the MLA is part of the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s ongoing efforts to enhance public health and reduce smoking prevalence in Singapore. It aims to prevent youth from picking up smoking by limiting access to tobacco products, and to further de-normalise smoking particularly for those below 21.

 

3.     The proposal to raise the MLA was debated and passed in Parliament on 7 November 2017 as part of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill 2017, following public consultations conducted from December 2015 to March 2016, and from 13 June to 10 July 2017. The tobacco industry (including retailers, importers and wholesalers) were informed of the changes from January 2018. HSA’s enforcement officers have also proactively reminded retailers of the change in MLA since October 2018 during their routine tobacco retail outlet inspections.

 

4.     Retailers who contravene the law and sell any tobacco products to a person below the MLA shall be liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $5,000 for the first offence and $10,000 for subsequent offences. In addition, the tobacco retail licence will be suspended for the first offence and revoked for subsequent offences[1].

 

5.     Besides retailers, persons who supply any tobacco products to a person below the MLA are also committing an offence. Persons caught buying or acquiring tobacco for a person below the MLA shall be liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $2,500 for the first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences. Persons caught giving or furnishing tobacco to a person below the MLA shall be liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $500 for the first offence and $1,000 for subsequent offences. Underage smokers who are caught for using, buying or having in their possession tobacco products are liable on conviction to a fine of up to $300.

 

6.     Members of the public can report errant retailers to the Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch at 6684 2037 or 6684 2036 during office hours. We also seek the public’s support to play their part and be responsible in not supplying tobacco to persons below the MLA.

 

7.     MOH remains committed to lowering smoking prevalence in Singapore through a comprehensive, multipronged approach to discourage and reduce the use of tobacco products. This includes public education on the harms of tobacco use, efforts to encourage tobacco-free living, legislative restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, and fiscal policies (e.g. tobacco taxation).


MINISTRY OF HEALTH

28 DECEMBER 2018

 


[1] If any outlet is found selling tobacco products to persons under-19 in school uniform or those below 12, the tobacco retail licence will be revoked, even at the first offence.