Singapore - Introduction of Tobacco Stamp to combat contraband ..

Cigarettes sold in Singapore to bear new stamp (positioned close to the filter). From January 1, 2009, all duty-paid cigarettes sold in Singapore will be marked with the letters "SDPC" which stands for Singapore Duty-Paid Cigarettes, Singapore Customs announced on Wednesday, 9/10/2008. This means that anyone found buying, selling or smoking cigarettes without the "SDPC" marking could be jailed or fined. For every packet of duty-unpaid cigarettes, the offender can be fined 500 Singapore dollars (350 U.S. dollars).

High demand for contraband comes from high prices for cigarettes in Singapore. A pack of premium cigarettes costs more than S$11 ($7.65US), compared to just $S3
($2.09US) across the border in Malaysia; a contraband pack costs S$5 ($3.48US).

Contraband provides cheap cigarettes, which encourages smoking, discourage quitting, increases average daily consumption, prompts relapse, and encourages youth initiation. Tobacco smuggling undermines the potential effectiveness of higher tobacco taxes reducing government revenues and encouraging adults to continue smoking and children to start smoking cigarettes.

According to the Customs, Singapore is the first country to implement this regulation. "The availability of cheap duty-unpaid cigarettes will hamper our national effort to discourage smoking", said Fong Yong Kian, director-general of Customs. He added that the marking will serve as deterrence against the peddling and buying of contraband cigarettes and help Singapore officers in the enforcement efforts.

Travelers to Singapore are advised that they should keep the receipts for cigarettes bought elsewhere.

Reference: Cigarettes sold in Singapore to bear new stamp, People's Daily Online, 9/10/2008; Cigarette sticks to bear "SDPC" marking from next year, inSYNC (Singapore customs newsletter), 9/2008.

Tobacco in Singapore, Euromonitor International, 2/2008.