Fourteen people have been sentenced to prison for smuggling vaping products into Singapore. The products were concealed in seven trucks that were transporting live chickens from Malaysia into Singapore.
Customs officials from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority said they intercepted more than 54,000 individual vaping products on June 7, according to Channel News Asia. Authorities say the value of the products is over 700,000 Singapore dollars (S$)—or about $519,000 U.S.
The convicted smugglers, who were all Malaysian truck drivers or employees of the company behind the importing scheme, received sentences ranging from five days to two months. All but one will serve at least five weeks.
Sales of e-cigarettes have been prohibited in the small island country since 2011, and Singapore’s parliament added a ban on possession and use in 2018. Sales of vapes can earn up to a six-month prison term, along with a fine of up to S$10,000 per offense. Unlike many other Asian countries with various forms of vape bans, Singapore is both democratic and wealthy.
However, even with harsh penalties for sale and possession, Singapore has a thriving black market in vaping products. Sellers connect with buyers on internet message boards or social media apps, and sales are robust.
Earlier this year, we reported that the Singaporean government has prosecuted 43 people for sales of illegal vaping products between January 2018 and February 2021. One convicted vape seller was fined S$99,000 (about $74,000 U.S.). During that same period, more than 2,000 individuals were charged with possession or use of vaping products.