“I’ve already gone to jail once anyway”: Vape Importer

An importer and distributor of e-vaporisers shares why he continues to sell the banned items in Singapore despite the risk of arrest.

You’ve probably seen people vaping in public, but make no mistake – selling, buying and using electronic vaporisers is illegal in Singapore.

Despite hefty punishments for breaking the law, the risk is well worth it for a 28-year-old e-vaporiser importer and distributor, who declined to be named.

“I’ve already gone to jail once anyway,” he says. However, the one-year imprisonment didn’t deter him as he resumed his business almost “immediately after” his release from jail.

In a typical month, he claims he can make a 4 to 5-figure sum in the black market. “I have people helping me out with sorting and shipment of stock.”

His profits mainly come from selling products to other freelance distributors who deal directly with customers. “Some are friends, but mostly, my distributors are strangers that contacted me through my Telegram. After all, it’s a win-win situation, they get stocks at a lower price, I get my regular customers.”

One of his distributors, who requested to remain anonymous, is a 19-year-old girl.

“There are a lot of sellers but they’re mostly guys,” she says. “After finding out that I’m a girl, quite a few male customers have ordered more [e-liquid] pods and devices from me.

“When I do meet-ups, they also hit on me sometimes…The cheekopek uncles [dirty old men] always come back to buy more. Easy money,” she says, adding that she can earn $2,000 to $3,000 a month.

Although there is no standard business model, importers usually buy e-liquid pods in bulk for $12 to $14 per box. The distributors then sell it at around $25 to $30, which is the market value.

These sellers find most of their buyers from Telegram. They set up chat groups to advertise e-vaporiser devices and vape “juice” pods, which are interchangeable tanks of flavoured e-liquid.

Vape

One of his distributors, who asked to stay unnamed, is a 19-year-old girl.

“There are a lot of sellers, but they’re mostly guys,” she said. “After learning that I’m a girl, several male customers have ordered additional [e-liquid] pods and gadgets from me.

“They sometimes hit on me during our meet-ups…”The cheeky uncles (filthy older men) always return to buy more. “Easy money,” she says, adding that she can make $2,000 to $3,000 monthly.

Although no standard business model exists, importers typically purchase e-liquid pods in bulk for $12 to $14 each box.

The distributors then sell it for approximately $25 to $30, the market value.

These sellers get the majority of their buyers via Telegram. They created chat rooms to promote e-vaporizers, vape “juice” pods, and interchangeable flavored e-liquid tanks.

Local Telegram groups can have up to 10,000 members and are easily found when users search for terms like “vape” or “RELX,” a famous e-vaporizer brand.

Risks -Vape 

The 19-year-old distributor claims she isn’t concerned about being caught because she can “easily create a spare Telegram account that won’t be traced back” to herself.

Some researchers argue that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking. Still, others have found that it may promote cigarette usage, lead to cancer development, and impede brain development in young individuals.

Singapore has banned e-vaporizers from safeguarding inhabitants, particularly youth, from long-term nicotine addiction.

Since 2018, Section 16(2A) of the Tobacco Act has made owning, buying, selling, or using e-vaporizers illegal in Singapore.

Those found guilty of smuggling vaporizers to Singapore face a $10,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders may face double the charges.

In 2019, a man was fined a record $99,000 for selling e-vaporizers online.

From June to August of this year, 14 persons were accused of selling vapes on social media and e-commerce sites, and they were fined $255,500.

Despite the strict rules, some vendors find it difficult to resist the appeal of making “fast cash” on the black market.

Is it worth the risk? Please share your thoughts with us.


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