SINGAPORE – A tobacco retailer in Ang Mo Kio had its licence revoked in April for selling cigarettes to an underage teenager in school uniform, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said.

The seller at Lian Lee Super Mart at Block 635 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 sold the product to a 17-year-old customer without checking the person’s age, as “he felt that the buyer looked mature”, the authority said in a statement on Tuesday (July 16).

Four other errant tobacco retailers, who were caught for the first time selling to people below the minimum legal age of 19, also had their licences suspended.

The shops are Shun Da Cheng Provision and Minimart at Block 424 Bukit Batok West Avenue 2, Giant Express at Block 622D Punggol Central, Buzz at Clementi MRT station and S-11 (AMK Central) at Block 51 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

Shun Da Cheng’s tobacco retail licence was suspended in May, while the other three retailers had their licences suspended in July.

These outlets are not allowed to sell tobacco products during their six-month suspension period.

HSA said that its officers caught these errant retailers through ground surveillance and enforcement activities.

Between 2015 and June, HSA suspended the licences of 91 tobacco retailers and revoked those of 14.

In its statement, the authority warned errant retailers that it will not hesitate to take prosecution actions against them.

“Tobacco retail licensees are reminded that they are responsible for all transactions of tobacco products taking place at their outlets, as well as the actions of their employees,” the statement said.

“Sellers take the risk of contravening the laws if they assess age by mere physical appearance of the buyer,” it added.

The minimum legal age to use, possess or buy tobacco products was raised to 19 years old from January this year.

It is due to be raised to 20 years old from January next year, and 21 years old from January 2021.

Anyone caught selling tobacco products to customers below the minimum legal age could be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 for the second or subsequent offence.

In addition, the errant retailer will have its tobacco licence suspended for six months for the first offence, and revoked for the second offence.

However, those found selling tobacco products to underage customers in school uniforms, or those below 12 years old, will have their licences revoked immediately. They would not be able to reapply for a tobacco licence.

Members of the public who have information on the illegal sale or supply of tobacco products to underage customers can call HSA’s tobacco regulation branch during office hours on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037.