Source: Asia Pacific Region 2 – Singapore
30th Dec 2019
From 1 January 2020, the Minimum Legal Age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products (MLA) will be raised from 19 to 20 years old. The MLA will subsequently be raised to 21 years old on 1 January 2021.
2 Raising the MLA aims to deter youths from picking up smoking by limiting the access to tobacco products, and is part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) continued efforts to denormalise smoking and reduce smoking prevalence among youths. The change in 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. The MLA was raised from 18 to 19 years old on 1 January 2019.
3 The tobacco industry, including retailers, importers and wholesalers, have been reminded of the changes. New warning notices stating that sale of tobacco to persons below the age of 20 is not permitted have been distributed to retailers for display at their outlets.
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. If any outlet is found selling tobacco products to underage persons in school uniform or those below 12, the tobacco retail licence will be revoked, even at the first offence.
5 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. 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. Underage smokers who are caught 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 Tobacco Regulation Branch at 6684 2037 or 6684 2036 during office hours.
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 tobacco taxation.