The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has revoked or suspended the licences of tobacco retailers which sold cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 years old. One retailer had its licence revoked for selling cigarettes to a minor wearing a school uniform. Meanwhile, the others were suspended between May to July this year for tobacco sales to minors.
The retailer with a revoked licence is Value Supermart for its 301 Serangoon Avenue 2 branch. It will no longer be able to sell tobacco products. Meanwhile, the remaining 12 retailers were caught selling tobacco products to minors for the first time, leading to a suspension of its licence for six months.
The 12 retailers are 326 Coffee Shop at 326 Woodlands Street 32, 151 Coffee & Tea at 151 Serangoon North Avenue 2, Sri Kumaran Mini Mart at 557 Jurong West Street 42, Angel Supermart at 326 Woodlands Street 52, Kopitiam Investment at 108 Punggol Field, H & N Mini-Mart at 620 Hougang Avenue 8, Good Price Hub at 135 Jurong Gateway Road, Chin Ju Heng Mini Supermarket at 835 Tampines Street 83, Jaya Ambiga Trading at 176 Boon Lay Drive, Zeng Mao Sheng at 716 Yishun Street 71, Fortune Supermarket at 780 Woodlands Crescent and Zhong Guo Chao Shi at 418 Yishun Avenue 11.
The retailers were caught following ground surveillance and enforcement activities. All 13 sellers did not ask for any form of identification to check the buyers’ age. The retailers also claimed that they were busy or that the minors “looked older than they were”.
“Sellers take the risk of contravening the laws if they assess age by mere physical appearance of the buyer,” the statement read.
From 2015 to date, 53 tobacco retail licences were suspended and nine were revoked by HSA. The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act states that anyone caught selling tobacco products to persons below the age of 18 is liable to penalties. This includes fines depending on the number of offences as well as the suspension or revoking of tobacco retail licences. Any outlet found to sell tobacco products to under-18 minors in school uniform and those under the age of 12 will have its licence revoked, even at the first offence.
The enforcement follows news in March which saw Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) revealing that it will look to standardise tobacco packaging. This is along with proposing legislative changes to Parliament within a year to raise the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products to minors, from 18 to 21 years, a change which will be phased in over a few years.