SINGAPORE: MacPherson Youth Network recently launched the “Drop It, Stop It!” anti-vape campaign in collaboration with Bilby Community Development, targeting individuals aged 12 to 30.
The initiative, set to run until 2 January 2 2024, encourages participants to relinquish their vape devices at MacPherson Community Club while engaging in a quiz.
As an incentive, each participant will receive a S$30 (US$22.4) voucher.
The campaign was officially inaugurated by MacPherson Member-of-Parliament Tin Pei Ling during a ceremony at the MacPherson Community Club on Saturday (18 Nov).
As reported by The Straits Time, Ms Tin highlighted that partnering authorities, namely the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and Health Promotion Board (HPB), are supportive of the campaign and will waive the usual penalties imposed on youths for possessing vape devices, as long as they surrender them through this program.
In Singapore, the possession, use, or purchase of vape devices can result in fines of up to S$2,000 (US$1,492) per offence.
The MacPherson anti-vape campaign aims to address the escalating prevalence of vaping among students.
The MacPherson Youth Network, in a Facebook post, emphasized their goal of engaging 50 youths or collecting 50 vape devices by the campaign’s conclusion.
Ms Tin expressed optimism about the effectiveness of the initiative, noting that the collaboration with HSA and HPB enhances its potential impact.
In an Instagram post on the same day, she commended the campaign for encouraging “positive choices” and fostering a healthier lifestyle among the youth.
The campaign aligns with the broader objective of curbing the rising trend of vaping, particularly among the targeted age group, and promoting a culture of informed decision-making regarding substance use.
Diverse perspectives arise among netizens regarding the ongoing anti-vape campaign
Netizens have varying opinions on the ongoing anti-vape campaign, with discussions unfolding in the comments section of The Straits Times’ Facebook post.
Some individuals view the campaign as a positive and commendable initiative to reduce vape usage.
Conversely, a different perspective emerges among some netizens who question the effectiveness of the campaign.
Several comments suggest scepticism, with concerns raised about the possibility that those surrendering their vapes may not be disclosing all their devices.
Doubts were expressed about whether individuals were handing over their only vape or if they still possessed others at home.
Sarcastic remarks from some netizens suggest that the campaign provides vape users with a designated disposal spot for their devices.
Additionally, some comments highlight the opportunity for participants to use the money received in exchange for their vapes to purchase new devices.
Concerns about the campaign being a potential trap for tracking vape users emerge in other comments.
One suggestion is that participants may be required to fill out a form, enabling authorities to identify individuals who surrender their vapes.
A comment implies that those caught smoking again might face severe financial penalties, creating a deterrent effect.
Despite these apprehensions, some netizens see the campaign as an opportunity to catch vape users red-handed.
While acknowledging the potential for surveillance, they also view it as a chance for individuals to make a positive change, emphasizing the importance of leading a healthy life and avoiding legal consequences.
In a broader critique, a netizen reflects on the campaign’s necessity, proposing that such issues could have been prevented by implementing a total ban on the import and sale of all vaping devices and associated products from the outset.
This perspective suggests a more comprehensive approach to curbing vaping-related concerns.
Stringent Penalties for E-Vaporizer Offenses in Singapore
Between 2018, when Singapore instituted a ban on vapes, and 2022, a total of 860 individuals were apprehended for illegally selling and smuggling these prohibited items.
First-time violators caught participating in these activities can face imprisonment for up to six months and fines reaching a maximum of S$10,000 (US$7,463) or both.
The severity of the penalties increases for repeat offenders, who may be subject to a jail term of up to 12 months and fines of up to S$20,000 (US$14,927) or a combination of both.
The Singapore Government justified the ban on vaping due to its ‘gateway effect.’ It is argued that youths who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular smokers, with many e-cigarette users eventually transitioning to smoking cigarettes or continuing to use both tobacco products as dual users.
However, Public Health England is sceptical about this claim. Its latest 2021 report on vaping found that both vaping and smoking prevalence among young people in England have remained stable in recent years. PHE also noted in 2015 that vaping is 95% less harmful to health compared to smoking conventional cigarettes.
While vaping is illegal in Singapore, conventional cigarettes, known to cause cancer to both smokers and second-hand smokers, remain legal.
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