July 24, 2020
Ten retailers have had their tobacco licences suspended after they were caught selling cigarettes to youth aged 18 or below, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said.
The outlets’ licences have been suspended for six months, during which they are not allowed to sell tobacco products.
They had sold cigarettes to underage customers from August 2019 to June 2020, and were caught through ground surveillance and enforcement activities, the authority said in a press release on Friday (July 24).
The affected outlets are located across Singapore, in locations including Bedok North, Boon Lay, Bukit Merah, Hougang, Marine Terrace, Stirling Road, Tampines and Yishun.
This is the first time that these 10 shops have been caught for this offence, HSA added.
The minimum legal age to use, possess or buy tobacco products is 20, and this limit will be raised to age 21 from Jan 1, 2021.
Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, anyone convicted of selling tobacco products to those under the minimum legal age can be fined up to S$5,000 for their first offence, and up to S$10,000 for their second or subsequent offence.
In addition, their tobacco retail licence will be suspended for six months for the first offence, and revoked for the second. Those who have been caught selling tobacco to customers below the minimum legal age will also not be able to apply for a tobacco retail licence.
The penalty is stiffer for outlets found selling tobacco products to underaged persons in school uniform or children below 12 years old. They will have their licence revoked, even if it is their first offence, HSA said.
The authority reminded tobacco retailers that they are responsible for all tobacco transactions at their outlets and to educate their employees on the law.
"HSA takes a stern approach towards errant retailers and will not hesitate to take prosecution actions against them," it said.
Sellers should verify the age of customers who want to buy tobacco products, as they risk breaking the law if they “assess age by mere physical appearance of the buyer”, it added.
From 2015 to June 2020, HSA suspended 102 tobacco retail licenses and revoked 16.
To report the illegal sale or supply of tobacco products to underage persons to the Tobacco Regulation Branch, members of the public can fill out an online form, or call 6684 2036 or 6684 2037.