Photo of tobacco counter from Straits Times

In a copy-cat move to the Singapore government’s twisted logic to allow online gambling, Singapore retailers quoted similar reasoning to object to the ban on flavoured tobacco. The chairman of Singapore Mini Mart Association, Alan Tay, reasoned that banning tobacco will only drive the problem underground and harder to manage:

“These illegal activities have a huge adverse impact on legitimate traders like us, that operate within the parameters of the law.”

According to the group of retailer associations, 97% of the retailers surveyed said that they are worried that smokers will turn to illegal sources if flavoured tobacco like menthol cigarettes is banned. 99% of the surveyed said that their businesses will be badly affected by the ban. 98% said that almost half of their customers requested for the flavoured tobacco.

Earlier in 2016, the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA) collectively proposed to ban flavoured tobacco in Singapore. Also among the tobacco-related bans are the raising of age limit from 18 to 21, standardizing a plain packaging and enhancing graphic warnings on the cigarette pack. The government also proposed to ban the selling of takeaway alcohol from 10.30pm to 7am.