The sale and use of Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) remain banned in Singapore. Electronic cigarettes are also known as e-cigarettes or vapor cigarettes. They are battery-operated devices. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like traditional cigarettes. Other devices such as tank systems do not look like cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco. Instead, they have cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals. The liquid chemicals turn into a vapor or steam that a person inhales.
Evidence from a wide body of scientific research has shown that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, even if they aren’t 100% risk-free. Cigarette smoking is a uniquely dangerous addiction. Cigarettes are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people every year. In Singapore, over 2,000 people die of smoking every year. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, asthma, diabetes, and most cancers. On average, smoking reduces your life span by at least 10 years. Tobacco could not possibly be approved for sale in Singapore today if it was a new product coming on the market.
An agency from the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK released a video comparing the effects of smoking and vaping, and claiming that the latter is 95% less harmful.
As part of a new campaign to encourage smokers to quit, Public Health England (PHE) released a video showing the effects of one month of smoking and vaping on two separate groups of cotton balls. The group exposed to traditional cigarette smoke for a month showed considerably more damage and tar build-up when compared to the vaping group.
A study by United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that many adults are using e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking, but that they do not stop smoking cigarettes and instead continue to use both. Due to the relatively new technology of e-cigarettes, scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. While the jury is still out over the health risks associated with e-cigarettes, almost every medical study on the subject can agree on one conclusion: they are safer than regular cigarettes.
E-cigarettes provide an outlet for smokers seeking to gradually kick their habit. E-cigarette smokers don’t give-off second-hand smoke as vape is merely water vapor. E-cigarettes don’t require lighters and thus doesn’t carry the same fire risk associated with regular cigarettes. It is more environmentally friendly given its reusability. By almost every measure, e-cigarettes are the superior option to regular cigarettes.
For a government that has explicitly indicated the reduction of tobacco smoking as a public health initiative, the ban on e-cigarettes while regular cigarettes remain legal and regulated represents a paradox in public policy. It files against the face of overwhelming empirical evidence. Instead of granting access to lower-risk alternatives, the government’s modus operandi these days appears to be making tobacco smoking progressively more cost prohibitive and difficult. Measures like the smoke-free zone in Orchard Road and raising the minimum legal age of smoking to 19 are already in place.
While a total ban on regular cigarettes remains elusive, the government is still reluctant to consider legalizing e-cigarettes and subjecting them to similar regulations. To do so would be an admission of error in judgment – something the government avoids at all cost.