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SINGAPORE: A total of 3,912 people have been caught using and possessing e-vaporisers or vapes between January and August this year as the number of cases continues to rise annually. 

In 2021, 4,697 people were caught for the same offence, more than triple the figure of 1,266 in the previous year.

In 2019, the number stood at 811.

Providing an update on Tuesday (Sep 27), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said 428 people have been caught selling vapes from 2018 to August 2022. A total of 91 were prosecuted in the same period. 

Although the use, purchase and possession of e-vaporisers were banned in Singapore from February 2018, such products continue to be sold online and smuggled into the country.

“HSA works closely with our partner agencies to stem the flow of e-vaporisers smuggled through the checkpoints and via online orders,” said the agency.

It added that it monitors social media platforms and messaging apps for anyone suspected of selling vapes, refill liquids and cartridges. 

“We work with related e-commerce sites to shut down such listings promptly upon detection. To complement our enforcement operations, HSA has also collaborated with online platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Carousell … to remove illegal postings on tobacco-related products,” said HSA.

In 2021, more than 6,800 postings were removed.

HSA said Singapore adopts a multipronged approach to tackle the use of e-vaporisers, comprising legislation, enforcement, public education and counselling.

In May, illegal vape products estimated to be worth more than S$1 million were burned at the Tuas South Incineration Plant as part of the HSA’s enforcement operations. This included an estimated 6,500 e-vaporisers, 83,500 pods and 8,000 e-liquids.

On Monday, HSA said 17 people were convicted for selling vapes between February and August this year, with total fines amounting to S$114,500. Five people were also given jail sentences ranging from 10 to 26 days.

Authorities are also working to address the issue of teenagers getting hooked on vaping. 

A student health adviser told CNA in June that some students who vape have the misconception that it is a healthier substitute for smoking.

To tackle the issue, HSA said it works with the Ministry of Health, the Health Promotion Board and the Ministry of Education “through targeted education and enforcement strategies for youth”.

Offenders found to be selling, possessing for sale, importing or distributing e-vaporisers can be fined up to S$10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both for the first offence.

Repeat offenders could be fined up to S$20,000, jailed for up to one year, or both.