ICA foils attempt to smuggle 20,000 e-vaporisers disguised as chicken-flavoured snacks

Aqil Hamzah
The Straits Times
February 20, 2023

An attempt to smuggle 20,000 e-vaporisers into Singapore by disguising them as chicken-flavoured snacks was foiled when officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) conducted a closer inspection of the Malaysia-registered lorry.

In a Facebook post on Monday, ICA said the vehicle arrived at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Feb 3.

X-ray images of its cargo revealed anomalies, which led to enhanced checks. The boxes – labelled as snacks – were found to contain e-vaporisers.

ICA said the case has been referred to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for further investigation.

“As guardian of our borders, ICA is committed to facilitating trade and safe travels while keeping Singapore’s borders safe and secure,” it added.

Despite the crackdown on such products, illicit vaping continues to be on the rise in Singapore.

According to figures from the HSA, there were almost four times the number of people caught in 2022 for using and possessing e-vaporisers, compared with the number in 2020.

In 2022, 4,916 people were caught, compared with 1,266 in 2020 and 4,697 in 2021.

Those caught for using and possessing vaping products can be fined up to $2,000.

Between 2018 and 2022, 860 people were caught selling and smuggling e-vaporisers, with 145 prosecuted in the same period.

E-vaporisers are bought and sold over the Internet, on social media and via private messaging apps. The HSA works closely with online platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Carousell to remove illegal postings on tobacco-related products.

The Central Narcotics Bureau also carries out active online surveillance and engages e-commerce companies, courier companies and related industries closely to ensure that their platforms and listings are not misused for drug offences. 

Anyone convicted of selling, offering for sale, possessing for sale, importing or distributing e-vaporisers can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to six months.

Although there are claims that e-vaporisers are “safer” than traditional cigarettes, whether they are truly less harmful is still up in the air. Besides encouraging nicotine addiction, the use of e-vaporisers could lead to health problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory issues.

In 2019, 2,409 young people were hospitalised for respiratory failure in the United States because of Evali (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury), with 52 of them dying.

The cause was vitamin E acetate, a chemical used in e-vaporiser liquid as a thickening agent.

On 3 February 2023, ICA officers at Woodlands Checkpoint foiled an attempt to...

Posted by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority on Sunday, February 19, 2023

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