December 2023

Little over two years ago, the cigar blog www.ministryofcigars.com, was taken offline. The owner and sole contributor to the website, Ferdinand Piet, lives in Singapore and the Singaporean government deemed the website illegal.

The legislation is vague enough and the confusing bit of the legislation is the word ‘advertising’. The law says:

“Prohibition on advertisements relating to tobacco products
 3. —(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) or section 22, any person who publishes or causes to be published or takes part in the publication of any advertisement — 
(a) containing any express or implied inducement, suggestion, or request to purchase or to use any tobacco product; “

Ministry of Cigars followed the definition of advertising, as most people would do, of the Adverting Association of the United Kingdom. That definition says “Advertising is a means of communication with the users of a product or service. Advertisements are messages paid for by those who send them and are intended to inform or influence people who receive them.”

After Ministry of Cigars went offline, Cigarinspector.com acquired the database with news and library articles as the content of the website was of such quality that it would be a shame if it would disappear forever.

Fined

The Singapore Health & Science Authority showed up at the door of Mr. Piet on August 16, 2021 and the website went offline on September 18th of that year. Last month, more than two years after the date, HSA has finally come to a verdict after several interrogations. Ferdinand Piet was hit with three fines, all of 1000 Singapore dollar each, resulting in a total fine of 3000 SGD (approx. 1774 GBP/2067 EUR/2250 USD). But we are happy to hear that this is the end of it, and that the former minister can finally move on, that the case is closed and that the verdict is just a fine.

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