14 Malaysians jailed after 'largest seizure' of e-vaporisers and components worth about $700,000

SINGAPORE – Fourteen men have been sentenced to up to two months in jail for smuggling after authorities made what is believed to be the largest seizure so far of electronic vaporisers (e-vaporisers) and their components with a street value of about $700,000.

The men, all of whom were Malaysians aged between 22 and 54, were sentenced on Monday (July 5) after trying to smuggle a total of 54,392 pieces of e-vaporisers and their components into Singapore on June 7 by concealing them in seven Malaysian-registered lorries used to transport live chickens.

The attempt was foiled by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers at the Tuas Checkpoint who found the e-vaporisers hidden in the cabin passenger seats of the lorries.

Investigations by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) revealed that the smuggled items were to be dropped off to someone at a designated location in Singapore.

HSA has reiterated that it will take strong enforcement action against anyone importing prohibited tobacco products such as e-vaporisers and their components.

“The public is strongly advised not to purchase or bring prohibited tobacco products into Singapore. Information pertaining to prohibited tobacco products, such as e-vaporisers, is available on the HSA website,” said an HSA spokesman.

“Members of the public who have information on the illegal import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of prohibited tobacco products can submit a report conveniently using the online form,” the spokesman added.

Despite Covid-19 restrictions on travel and movement of goods since early 2020, smuggling of e-vaporisers and their components have continued.

HSA’s 2017/2018 annual report showed that 1,744 e-vaporiser cases were referred to the agency but this figure rose to 1,930 cases the following year. Then, in the 2019/2020 period, it jumped to 4,676. .

Vaping, which mimics smoking, was banned on Feb 1, 2018.

Anyone convicted of using, buying or possessing e-vaporisers can be fined up to $2,000. Between Feb 1, 2018 and Dec 31, 2020, 2,145 people were caught for possessing and using vaping products.

E-vaporisers can still be bought online via social media or closed message groups.

Distributors and re-sellers compete aggressively online – one popular online message group had about 8,000 advertisements in March 2020. That figure jumped to more than 115,000 by December the same year.

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