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Ban on point-of-sale display of tobacco products from Aug 1, 2017; retailers will have 1-year grace period

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/ban-on-point-of-sale-display-of-tobacco-products-from-aug-1-2017-retailers-will

The point-of-sale display ban on tobacco products – approved in Parliament in March – takes effect on August 1, 2017.

Retailers have a one-year grace period before the ban goes into effect, a joint statement by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (July 28) said.

MOH has beefed up tobacco control measures in a bid to protect public health and reduce tobacco consumption, particularly among younger Singaporeans.

These include previously announced amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act on Monday (Aug 1), such as bans on emerging tobacco products and shisha.

MOH said the point-of-sale display ban on tobacco products aims to reduce the exposure of non-smokers, especially among the young, to the advertising effect of tobacco product displays.

It also hopes to help current smokers attempting to quit by minimising impulse purchases of tobacco products.

General tobacco retailers will be required to use plain, undecorated storage devices to keep tobacco products within their premises out of the direct line of sight of the public and potential customers.

A text-only price list, which must fulfil MOH’s requirements, may be shown, but only upon customers’ request.

MOH noted that globally, there has been a marked increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among young people.

The amended Act extends existing restrictions on e-cigarettes to include newer varieties which do not necessarily bear a physical resemblance to cigarettes or other tobacco products.

The component parts of such products will also be banned to prevent retailers from importing them and reassembling them locally for sale.

Existing prohibitions on advertisements for tobacco products will also be extended to cover advertising for e-cigarettes and similar products.

The ban on advertising for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and similar products will also be extended to advertisements published electronically, MOH said.

Advertisements and sales promotions originating from Singapore, whether targeting local or foreign audiences, and advertisements from outside Singapore which can be accessed by people in Singapore, will now be banned.

Customer loyalty programmes and promotional schemes involving tobacco products are also not allowed.

A ban on emerging tobacco products first imposed in June last year will now be extended to include the likes of nasal snuff, oral snuff and gutkha.

From Monday, the grace period for importers and retailers on the ban on shisha – first imposed in November 2014 – comes to an end.

Existing licensed tobacco importers and retailers who import or sell shisha will be prohibited from importing, wholesaling or retailing the product.

MOH said that any person who contravenes either the ban on emerging tobacco products or the ban on shisha can be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned up to six months, or both.

In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, they could face a fine of up to $20,000, imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

Members of the public who have information on the import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of emerging tobacco products or shisha can call the reporting line at 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours.

MOH said it remains committed to lowering smoking prevalence in Singapore through a multi-pronged approach towards tackling tobacco use. This, it said, includes public education, restrictions on tobacco advertising, easy access to smoking cessation services and taxation.

Home Briefs: Action against six tobacco retailers

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/home-briefs-action-against-six-tobacco-retailers

Action against six tobacco retailers

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has either revoked or suspended the tobacco retail licences of six errant retailers for selling tobacco products to minors under 18.

The six were caught via ground surveillance and enforcement activities conducted by HSA, it said yesterday.

Song Hui Kiosk in Ang Mo Kio had its licence revoked after it was found to have sold tobacco to a 14-year-old in school uniform. The other retailers – Shivaranjani Minimart, 26 Foodloft, Al Kaaba Mini-Mart, Sin Hup Lee Store and O A Jalil – will be barred from selling tobacco products for six months.

Since 2013, HSA has suspended 32 tobacco retail licences and revoked 22 others.

HSA revokes, suspends licences of 6 retailers for selling tobacco to minors

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/hsa-revokes-suspends-licences-of-6-retailers-for-selling-tobacco-to-minors

Song Hui Kiosk had its tobacco retail licence revoked, while the licences of the other five were suspended for six months. PHOTO: HSA

Song Hui Kiosk had its tobacco retail licence revoked, while the licences of the other five were suspended for six months. PHOTO: HSA

SINGAPORE – The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has either revoked or suspended the tobacco retail licences of six errant retailers for selling tobacco products to minors under 18.

The six were caught via ground surveillance and enforcement activities conducted by HSA, it said in a press release on Tuesday (July 5).

Song Hui Kiosk in Ang Mo Kio had its licence revoked and will no longer be allowed to sell tobacco products, after it was found to have sold them to a 14-year-old in school uniform.

The other five retailers – Shivaranjani Minimart, 26 Foodloft, Al Kaaba Mini-Mart, Sin Hup Lee Store, and O A Jalil – had sold tobacco products to minors for the first time.

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They will be prohibited from selling tobacco products for six months.

Since 2013, HSA said it has suspended 32 tobacco retail licences and revoked 22 others.

HSA reminded tobacco retail licensees that they are responsible for all transactions of tobacco products at their outlets, as well as the actions of their employees.

It also urged licensees to educate their employees on the law pertaining to the sale of such products, and for sellers to check the age of those who wish to buy them.

Anyone caught selling tobacco products to minors aged 18 and below can be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences.

In addition, the tobacco retail licence will be suspended for six months for the first offence, and revoked for the second.

Any outlet found selling tobacco products to minors in school uniform or to those below 12, however, will have their licences revoked at the first offence.

The public can view the updated list of tobacco retailers with suspended or revoked licences here.

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Two retailers’ licences suspended for selling tobacco to minors

Both retailers have had their tobacco retail licences suspended for six months, according to the Health Sciences Authority.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/two-retailers-licences/2688026.html

SINGAPORE: The licences of two tobacco retailers have been suspended for six months for selling tobacco products to minors under 18 years of age, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced in a media release on Tuesday (Apr 12).

The retailers are:

• Fair Inn Food Place, located at 806 Woodlands Street 81 #01-115
• H.R Frozen Food and Trading, located at 205 Choa Chu Kang Central #01-K1

Fair Inn Food Place will not be allowed to sell tobacco from Jan 22, 2016, to Jul 21, 2016, while H.R Frozen Food and Trading’s suspension is from Mar 2, 2016, to Sep 1, 2016.

HSA said this was the outlets’ first offence. One of the sellers was an employee, while the other was a co-owner of the retail store. “Both sellers had failed to check the age of the minors before selling tobacco products to them.”

They were apprehended via HSA’s ground surveillance and enforcement activities to deter the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors, the authority said.

HSA said that those caught selling tobacco products to persons below the age of 18 are liable to a maximum S$5,000 fine for a first offence and up to S$10,000 for a second or subsequent offence.

It added that the tobacco retail licence will be suspended for six months for the first offence and revoked for the second offence. However, if any outlet is found selling tobacco products to minors under 18 and wearing school uniform or below 12 years old, the licence will be revoked, even if it is the first offence.

In the last three years, HSA has suspended 25 tobacco retail licences and revoked 21 of them, it said.

Ban on display of tobacco products from 2017

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ban-on-display-of-tobacco-products-from-2017

Retailers will have to keep tobacco products out of sight from next year, following changes to the law approved by Parliament yesterday.

These products include cigarettes, cigars, beedies and “ang hoon”, or loose tobacco leaves.

The ban on the display of such products is intended to prevent impulse buys, especially among young people who have not yet picked up smoking.

However, specialist tobacco shops, such as those that sell cigars, simply need to make sure that their products cannot be seen from outside the shop.

Duty-free shops at Changi Airport will be exempt from the ban for now, while those at seaports will be subject to rules similar to those for specialist tobacco sellers.

Tighter rules on online tobacco advertisements – such as banning ads from Singapore even if they do not target Singaporeans – were also introduced.

Views sought to raise minimum smoking age to 21

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/views-sought-raise-minimum-legal-age-tobacco-purchase-18-21

SINGAPORE – To delay smoking initiation among youths, the Health Promotion Board (HPB), together with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA), is seeking the public’s views on whether it should prevent people from buying tobacco until they are 21 years old.

If the measure is passed, this will raise the minimum legal age for the purchase, possession and use of tobacco in Singapore from 18 to 21.

The HPB first said last May that it was studying raising the legal age for smoking. It followed an earlier proposal by non-profit organisation Sata CommHealth, which said increasing it to 21 would deter young men from picking up smoking during National Service.

This is part of the strategies the Board is considering to achieve its aim of reducing Singapore’s smoking prevalence rate to 12 per cent by 2020.

The nation’s smoking rate has been steadily decreasing, from 18.3 per cent in 1992 to 13.3 per cent in 2013. Singapore has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, HPB said today (Dec 29), citing a report by World Health Organisation (WHO).

As a rationale for raising the minimum legal age for purchase of tobacco, the HPB quoted a 2008 WHO report on how persons who do not start smoking before the age of 21 are unlikely to ever begin. HPB added that other studies have shown that young persons who start smoking early are likely to continue smoking into adulthood.

Other tobacco control measures it is looking to implement include reducing the appeal of tobacco products through standardised packaging without any promotional information like trademarks, logos, colour schemes and imagery.

The HPB also recommends increasing the size of graphic health warnings to occupy more than 50 per cent of the tobacco packaging and replacing images on such warnings every two to three years to increase its effectiveness.

The HPB would also like to seek views on the restriction of the sale of tobacco products that have a flavour. Flavours can include menthol as well as fruit and candy flavours.

The public consultation will be held for a period of 12 weeks from today to March 29 next year.

Singapore currently adopts a multi-pronged approach to drive down its smoking prevalence, HPB said.

This includes a wide range of strategies such as legislation, which includes restrictions on tobacco advertising and smoking prohibitions in public places, public education, the provision of smoking cessation services and taxation.

Ban on smokeless cigarettes kicks in

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ban-on-smokeless-cigarettes-kicks-in

Smokeless cigarettes have officially been banned island-wide.

The ban, which comes into effect today, covers emerging tobacco products “currently not available in Singapore”, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement yesterday.

Other products that were also banned include dissolvable tobacco and products containing tobacco or nicotine that may be applied topically, injected or implanted in the body.

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

The ban was first announced in June this year and is part of MOH’s “ongoing efforts to protect the public against the known and potential harms of emerging tobacco products”.

These products join e-cigarettes, which have already been banned under the Tobacco Act.

The new ban is to “ensure that they do not gain a foothold or become entrenched in the Singapore market, which could stimulate demand for and increase the prevalence of tobacco consumption”, said MOH.

The ban that comes into effect today is part of a two-phase effort to bar such products from taking root in Singapore.

The second phase of the ban, which covers products already in the local market, will kick in from August next year.

The products that will be banned include nasal and oral snuff, which are smokeless forms of tobacco that are inhaled and chewed respectively; gutkha, which is a mix of tobacco, betel nut and catechu (herb) with lime, menthol, sandal oil, spice and flavourings; and khaini and zarda, which are flavoured chewing tobaccos.

MOH said this approach will give retailers time to “adjust their operating models away from such products, and deplete their existing stocks”.

Smokers who flout the ban can be fined up to S$10,000 or jailed up to six months or both. The maximum penalties will double if they are convicted for a second time.

Singapore: Display ban from 2017

The Ministry of Health plans to outlaw displays of tobacco products in retail outlets from 2017, according to Channel NewsAsia.

A standardised, text-only price list for tobacco products may be allowed to promote a level playing field, the website reported. Amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act will be tabled in Parliament.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor reportedly promised the government would work with retailers to reduce inconveniences caused by the switch.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Display_ban_from_2017.53335.0.html

Regulate but don’t ban e-cigarettes, expert tells Singapore

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/regulate-but-don-t-ban-e-cigarettes–expert-tells-singapore-104914521.html

Regulating electronic cigarettes is a better option than banning them due to the potential benefits for smokers who are looking to quit their habit, according to a UK expert.

Heneage Mitchell, founder of survey site FactAsia.org, was giving his views to Yahoo Singapore about the upcoming ban on the use of e-cigarettes in Singapore after attending a summit in London.

The ban on e-cigarettes, which produce vapour for users to inhale, takes effect on 15 December. Also known as personal vaporisers or electronic nicotine delivery systems, e-cigarettes come in a large variety of flavours (also referred to as juices) and often contain nicotine. The act of using e-cigarettes is commonly referred to as “vaping”.

Mitchell said the Singapore government should instead regulate e-cigarettes to ensure that they are safe to use.

“The government has denied access to a product that is scientifically proven to be much safer than a legal product. To me, that doesn’t make sense.”

Mitchell, who was the former managing editor of Tobacco Asia, added, “They [the government] need to take a step back and ask what are our long term health goals, and it’s definitely to reduce death and disease associated with smoking.”

The e-cigarette summit on 12 November saw university researchers coming together to unveil their survey findings related to e-cigarettes.

Since Singapore banned the import, sale and distribution of e-cigarettes on 28 November 2014, many Singapore smokers have flocked across the Causeway to get their vaping fix. While the products are not banned in Malaysia – the local industry was worth US$639 million in 2014, according to a report by Channel NewsAsia – the authorities are cracking down on juices that contain nicotine.

Many smokers see vaping as effective in helping them to curb or quit the habit, mainly due to the absence of harmful tobacco and smoke in e-cigarettes. The UK’s Public Health Department released survey findings in August this year stating that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco.

In a joint statement released previously, Singapore’s Ministry of Health, Health Sciences Authority and Health Promotion Board said, “We are aware that e-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative to standard cigarettes or as an effective smoking cessation device. We remain cautious as there is no conclusive scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit tobacco use.

”E-cigarettes could potentially be a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among the young.”

Concern with unregulated e-cigarette juices in Malaysia

While it’s not difficult to manufacture e-cigarette juices, Mitchell said that smokers should be getting the support from their respective governments so that they can buy products that are safe to use.

During the interview, Mitchell also showed images of an e-cigarette store that he recently visited in Malaysia. The images showed several shelves that were fully stocked with bottles of unregulated juices.

“Unbelievable, it’s totally unregulated. There’s just dozens and dozens of these wholesalers, and all of them had two, three, four people buying chunks of juice… they had no idea what’s in them,” he said.

The ingredients of juices are typically water, propylene glycol, vegetable glycol, and pharmaceutical-grade nicotine, and food grade flavor, and they are easy to make, Mitchell pointed out.

How other countries regulate e-cigarettes

Authorities from around the world have different ways of regulating e-cigarettes.

South Korea taxes e-cigarettes, which are categorised as tobacco products. A milliliter of liquid nicotine is taxed at the same rate as a box of tobacco.

Australia categorises nicotine as poison if not used for therapeutic purposes. E-cigarettes without nicotine are categorised as consumer products.

A full list of countries and their e-cigarette regulations, which was revealed at the summit, is available http://globaltobaccocontrol.org/e-cigarette/country-comparison-database .