Illicit vaping on the rise, more caught in 2022

Singapore – Last Friday night was like any other weekend night, with young people lining walkways to enter Clarke Quay’s nightclubs and bars. Illicit vaping is on the rise, with more people caught in 2022.

However, the first indication that the illegal act of vaping had spread to the revelers was a persistent sweet aroma in the air.

Despite the prohibition against smoking in clubs, dozens of partygoers were clearly inhaling the vapor from vaporizers at designated smoking areas and inside clubs.

According to the most recent data from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), there will be nearly four times as many people arrested for using and possessing e-cigarettes in 2022 as there were in 2020.

The offense, which carries a maximum fine of $2,000, was committed by 4,916 people in 2022, up from 1,266 in 2020 and 4,697 in 2021.

Milieu conducted a smoking and vaping survey in September 2022, and the results showed that 4.3% of adults in Singapore were using alternative products like vapes. This represented a 10 percent increase from 3.9% in September 2021 and a 43% increase from 3% in the first quarter of the same year.

An atomizer, a battery, and a small container for e-liquid or juice make up vaporisers, or e-cigarettes. The liquid, which may contain nicotine as well as chemicals like glycerine and propylene glycol, is heated until it forms an aerosol, which is then taken in. The e-juice comes in flavors like buttermilk pudding, mango, green tea, and watermelon.

The Ministry of Education reported in October 2021 that, over the course of the previous three years, an average of seven students from primary, secondary, and pre-university institutions had been arrested for smoking and vaping.

According to a teacher on the disciplinary committee of a primary school in the northwest of Singapore, when a student is caught vaping, he is warned about the risks and his parents are informed. Caning may be used against a repeat offender.

The teacher, who declined to be identified, stated to The Straits Times on Wednesday: They (primary school students) informed me that they stole vaporizers from their vaping parents or brothers. Some of my students claimed to have purchased their vapes from secondary school students. I have also advised a female student who sold vapes.

Students caught vaping frequently use the school restrooms. The teacher continued, “We have helpful janitors, as well as other students, who tell us about students who boast about bringing vaporizers to school.” She added that her school has implemented random bag checks.

On February 1, 2018, the ban on vaporizers went into effect. Nevertheless, despite a worldwide decline in cigarette consumption, its popularity steadily increased in Singapore during Covid-19 movement restrictions in 2020.

Duty-free cigarettes brought in $1.176 billion in revenue in 2019, and $1.347 billion in revenue in 2021. Singapore Customs seized 2.9 million packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes in 2019, compared to 1.95 million packets in 2021.

On social media, the Internet, and private messaging apps, vapers are bought and sold. A vaporizer that is disposable can last approximately 5,000 puffs and costs about $30. A set of three pods with approximately 500 puffs each can be purchased for $17, and non-disposable vaporizers may cost around $60.

A pack of 20 premium cigarettes, on the other hand, currently costs approximately $14.30.

On the messaging app Telegram, there are at least 20 groups that specialize in vaporizers. Each group has an average of 13,000 members and approximately 50,000 advertisements for vaporizers.

Vape packages in Singapore dollars start at $30 for a disposable vaporiser on websites with Malaysian contact numbers. Cannabis-infused gummy bears, cannabis joint wrappers, and cannabis oil are also sold by a few websites.

When the Malaysian border opened in April 2022, some vapers, including “Mike,” who is not his real name, said that they often smuggled small amounts of e-juice and vaporizers into their cars.

According to Mike, a 25-year-old, “you get to choose from many different styles of vapes and e-juice in Malaysia, and it is only a third of the price compared to vapes sold online in Singapore.”

Saturday, a HSA spokesperson told ST that the agency monitors retail websites, social media platforms, and messaging apps for any suspected sales of vaporizers, cartridges, and refill liquids. It also works with online platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Carousell to get rid of posts about tobacco products that are illegal.

More than 2,601 postings were removed in 2022. 860 people were caught selling and smuggling vaporizers between 2018 and 2022, and 145 were prosecuted at the same time.

A person who is found guilty of selling, offering for sale, possessing for sale, importing, or distributing vaporizers faces a maximum $10,000 fine, up to six months in prison, or both.

ST learned on Saturday from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) that it also conducts active online surveillance and closely works with e-commerce, courier, and other related businesses to ensure that their platforms and listings are not misused for drug offenses.

According to a spokesperson for the CNB, some vaporizers may be sold as “health products” but contain controlled substance derivatives of hemp or cannabis.

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