Singapore is known as a country that values cleanliness and orderliness. Visitors to the city-state often marvel at its well-maintained streets and absence of litter. This is no accident. The government of Singapore has implemented a number of laws and regulations to ensure that the city-state remains clean and well-organized. One such regulation is the ban on bubble gum, which was introduced in 1992 under the Chewing Gum Control Act.
The ban on bubble gum was introduced after years of frustration with the negative effects of improperly disposed of gum on the city-state's cleanliness and infrastructure. People were spitting gum on sidewalks, walls, and public transportation, and it was causing damage to buildings and littering the streets. The government decided to take action, and the ban was implemented to help maintain a clean and orderly society.
The Chewing Gum Control Act initially prohibited the sale, import, and manufacture of all types of chewing gum in Singapore. However, in 2004, the ban was partially lifted, and the sale and consumption of therapeutic chewing gum with dental or medical benefits were allowed. This was a concession to the needs of medical professionals and individuals who require gum to manage dental or other health issues.
Despite the partial lifting of the ban, the sale and import of chewing gum in Singapore is still heavily regulated. It is illegal to import chewing gum for resale or distribution, and there are strict rules on the disposal of chewing gum. Chewing gum can only be sold in pharmacies and is required to be labeled as therapeutic gum. The gum must also contain approved therapeutic ingredients and must be approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore.
The ban on bubble gum has been controversial since its introduction, and some people feel that it is an unnecessary infringement on personal freedom. However, the government of Singapore maintains that the ban is necessary to maintain the city-state's cleanliness and orderliness. The ban on bubble gum is just one example of the government's efforts to create a well-organized and clean society. The government has also implemented a number of other regulations, such as fines for littering and a ban on smoking in public places, to achieve this goal.
According to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, he was first approached about a chewing gum ban in the early 1980s by the Ministers of National Development. At the time, some initial controls were put in place including a ban on television advertisements that promoted the sale or consumption of chewing gum. For years, the Housing Development Board had reportedly been spending S$150,000 annually to tidy up gum that had been disposed of on sidewalks, in keyholes, around housing estates and even on the seats of public transportation.
At first, Lee Kuan Yew had opposed a complete prohibition of chewing gum and instead shared the view of those who believed that it was an extreme measure that could be more effectively addressed through education and imposing fines on repeat offenders. However, his stance changed in 1987 with the introduction of the Mass Rapid Transit system, which had incurred costs of $5 billion and was seen as a means of modernizing and revolutionizing the city-state. The excitement around the project was quickly dampened by people sticking chewing gum on the train door sensors, causing malfunctions and lengthy train service disruptions. This incident marked the end of chewing gum's welcome on the island.
In conclusion, the ban on bubble gum in Singapore was introduced as part of the government's efforts to maintain a clean and orderly society. Although the ban has been partially lifted to allow for therapeutic gum, the sale and import of chewing gum in Singapore is still heavily regulated. The government's commitment to cleanliness and orderliness has helped to make Singapore one of the most well-maintained cities in the world.