Country Pushes Smokers Back To Cigarettes By Making Vapes, Smokeless Tobacco Illegal

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A new law will soon take effect banning the sale and use of electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco throughout Singapore, pushing users back to combustible tobacco.

Lawmakers in Singapore passed several amendments to the Tobacco Act in November, which will start being enforced in the country on Feb. 1. Currently, the importation and sale of vapor products is illegal, but smokers who get their hands on the devices were free to use them without penalty. Under the amendments, possession and use of the products is banned, along with smokeless tobacco products and shisha, reports The Star.

Some former smokers who have been vaping in the country say they will likely go back to cigarettes under the ban. Officials with the Ministry of Health announced Friday that violators of the new rules can face fines of up to $2,000.

“I tried the e-cigarettes but I didn’t like their aftertaste,” Ang Zhi Ying, a student who said he doesn’t mind switching back to cigarettes full-time, told The Straits Times. “It’s too dry.”

Public health experts focused on harm reduction say that onerous restrictions on e-cigarettes undermine public health by removing safer alternatives from the marketplace.

They note that vaping largely eliminates the harms from conventional cigarettes because 95 percent of the carcinogens that cause tobacco-related illnesses are released through combustion. E-cigarettes simply heat liquid nicotine, creating an aerosol vapor.

Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide and exhaled carbon monoxide.

Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes; namely, that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.

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