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Trinity34
26-05-04, 01:08
Gum Returns to Singapore After 12 Years
By GILLIAN WONG, Associated Press Writer

SINGAPORE - Ultra-tidy Singapore is lifting its notorious ban on chewing gum after 12 long years but only for registered users. Gum dealers face jail if they break the rules.

Before Singaporeans think about unwrapping a pack of the Wrigley's Orbit gum that's just started selling here and only in pharmacies they have to submit their names and ID card numbers. If they don't, pharmacists who sell them gum could be jailed up to two years and fined $2,940.

This Southeast Asian city-state, known for its immaculate streets and tight social controls, outlawed the manufacture, import and sale of chewing gum in 1992 after the country's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, complained that it was fouling streets, buildings, buses and subway trains.

Lee, 80, stepped down as prime minister in 1990 but still wields considerable influence under the title "senior minister."

Gum became a sticking point months ago in Singapore's free trade talks with Washington, when Representative Philip Crane of the U.S. state of Illinois home of chewing gum giant Wrigley pressed the issue.

Singapore compromised, agreeing to allow only the sale of "therapeutic" gum in pharmacies. The free trade pact took effect Jan. 1.

The Health Sciences Authority, responding to questions from The Associated Press, said it's allowed the sale of 19 "medicinal" and "dental" gum products.

Wrigleys' Orbit, which the company claims is good for teeth, hit pharmacy shelves just days ago. Pfizer's Nicorette, a nicotine gum meant to help smokers kick their addiction, has been available since March.

Nicorette costs $11 for a pack of 30 pieces.

Yahoo News (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=816&ncid=816&e=3&u=/ap/20040525/ap_on_fe_st/singapore_sticky_issue)