South-east Asia is one of the most popular tourist regions for British holiday makers and backpackers. Unfortunately for vapers, many countries in this area of the world are home to some of the strictest vaping laws.

It has been well documented how harsh the legislation regarding e-cigarettes is in Thailand. Recent reports suggest that Singapore isn’t too far behind. In February, new laws kicked in which made using, owning or possessing vaping goods illegal in Singapore.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) caught 28 people vaping between the start of February and the end of May. According to the HSA, its officers ‘look out for any person who is using these vaporisers, which include e-cigarettes’ in the course of their enforcement duties.

Before the legislation came into force in February, the laws only covered the importation and sale of vape goods. Between January 2017 and May 2018, 2,161 cases of importing e-cigarettes were reported. There were a further 120 cases involving sales of the products.

The reasoning behind the ban

Dr Chew Chin, respiratory medicine specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital unconvincingly explained the reasons for the ban. According to Dr Chin, “besides nicotine, which is “highly addictive”, e-cigarette aerosols can contain substances that harm the body.  This includes cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep into lungs.”

He also suggested that “nicotine is toxic to developing fetuses and can harm adolescent brain development.” The evidence of this is not cited and even if so, what about the nicotine from traditional cigarettes which are readily available in the country? Not to mention the other harmful chemicals which accompany it in tobacco cigarettes.

Apparently there is also “strong evidence” that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to traditional smoking among youths. This “strong evidence” has in fact been convincingly discredited on numerous occasions.

Dr Chin did acknowledge that some evidence shows e-cigarettes contain fewer toxins than cigarettes. However, he attempted to dismiss this evidence by claiming that “the research is still evolving”. 

Channel News Asia covered the story, in which they interviewed former Singaporean vapers. One man claimed he stopped in 2016 when the laws got stricter as it was harder to get hold of supplies. He then said that he had started smoking 30% more since stopping vaping…hardly surprising.