Singapore’s Ban On Chewing Gum
Singapore’s ban on the sale of chewing gum is potentially the most well-known law across the globe, although today the law is less strict than it once was when it first came about in the early 1990s.
Since the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement was signed back in 2004, chewing gum that provides health benefits is now available for purchase from pharmacies. And if you’re returning back to Singapore from abroad, no one will stop you from bringing back a few packs of gum truth be told.
According to Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, he was approached for the first time in the 1980s by the Ministers of National Development about a ban of chewing gum.
At the time, some initial controls were put into place, such as bans on ads on television that promoted chewing gum. It was reported that the Housing Development Board was spending a hefty annual amount on cleaning up gum around the country’s sidewalks, keyholes and even on the seats of buses.
Lee Kuan Yew was initially opposed to banning chewing gum entirely, understanding that perhaps it was too much of a drastic measure that could be simply solved through education and fining repeat offenders.
However everything changed in 1987 when the Mass Rapid Transit system came out. When people started to stick chewing gum on the train door sensors, it caused them to malfunction and disrupted train services. Chewing gum became a lot less welcome.
In 1992, the official ban was brought about from President Goh Chock Tong, with strong opinions on both sides of the ban. Supporters of the ban were pleased to see an end to the nuisance, while others felt as though it was too harsh and restrictive and that it impeded on people’s freedom.
Some people would even venture across the Malaysian border to Johor Bahru to get their fix, and the Singaporean government never tried to prevent this, rather they chose to fine those who were caught re-selling it.
The chewing gum ban is one of Singapore’s many laws in attempting to improve cleanliness.