Singapore: 10 tobacco retailers have their licences suspended for selling cigarettes to underage buyers

24 July 2020

Jean Iau, The Straits Times:

Ten tobacco retailers who sold cigarettes to people under the minimum legal age had their licences suspended by the authorities.

The punishment was meted out between August 2019 and June 2020.

In a statement on Friday (July 24), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said the retailers were caught by its ground surveillance and enforcement team.

As a result of the suspension, the retailers are not allowed to sell tobacco products during their six month suspension period.

Six out of the 10 retailers have been fined amounts ranging from $1,500 to $2,000, with investigations underway for the remaining cases.

With effect from Jan 1 this year, the minimum legal age to use, possess or buy tobacco products is 20 years old, up from 19. It will be raised to 21 years old from Jan 1, 2021.

“Tobacco retail licensees are reminded that they are responsible for all transactions of tobacco products taking place at their outlets, as well as the actions of their employees.

“Sellers take the risk of contravening the laws if they assess age by mere physical appearance of the buyer,” the HSA said.

According to the HSA’s list of suspended and revoked retail licences, seven retailers have had their licences suspended or revoked to date in 2020.

A total of 16 retailers had their licences suspended or revoked in 2019, down from 27 in 2018 and 29 in 2017.

Between 2015 and June 2020, a total of 102 licences were suspended and 16 were revoked.

Those caught selling tobacco products to underage buyers can be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 for the second or subsequent offence.

In addition, the tobacco retail licence of the seller will be suspended for six months for the first offence and revoked for the second offence.

If any outlet is caught selling tobacco products to underage buyers in school uniform or those below the age of 12, the tobacco retail licence will be revoked, even if it is the first offence.

Members of the public who have information on the illegal sale or supply of tobacco products to underage people can report them to the Tobacco Regulation Branch via this online form or call 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 during office hours.