To chew or not to chew? Is bringing gum into Singapore for personal consumption really legal?
These are just some of the many questions still lingering in the grey for most visitors, and even some Singaporeans themselves.
In the 1980s, there was an increasing awareness of people disposing of gum incorrectly by sticking them under places such as chairs or tables, in mailboxes, inside keyholes and even on elevator buttons in high-rise public housing flats, causing serious maintenance problems. Chewing gum was also left on floors, stairways and pavements in public areas and on the seats of publics buses, which increased the cost of cleaning and damaged cleaning equipment.
It was then reported that vandals had begun sticking chewing gum on the door sensors of trains on the new MRT metro system, preventing the door from functioning properly and causing disruption of train services. The law banning the import and sale of chewing gum in Singapore was then implemented in 1992.
While chewing gum for therapeutic or medicinal use is now legally acceptable, the reality is that importing and distributing gum in Singapore remains illegal. According to regulations 'importing' means to 'bring or cause to be brought into Singapore by land, water or air from any place which is outside Singapore ...'. Hence, it is stated clearly in the law that bringing in chewing gum, even in small quantities, is prohibited.
However, this law has started to relax, when it was revised in 2004 due to the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. (USS-FTA). Since then, only chewing gum of therapeutic value is allowed, under the Regulation of Imports and Exports (Chewing Gum) Regulations.