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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 12:20 GMT
Singapore to partly lift gum ban
Singapore was fed up with gum littering the city streets
Singapore is preparing to partially lift its famous ban on chewing gum - in order to comply with a free trade agreement with the United States.

But only gum aimed at helping smokers to quit will be allowed when the new rules come into effect on Thursday.

The government will allow the sale of Nicorette, a nicotine gum, because the agreement with the US says "therapeutic" brands should be allowed.

Singapore banned chewing gum in 1992 because of a litter problem.

The pristine city-state, did not like gum sticking to its pavements, but the rules have been relaxed as part of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which came into effect at the start of this year.

US pressure

The gum became a sticking point in the trade talks when Philip Crane, a US congressman from Illinois, called for Singapore to lift the ban on all gum. Mr Crane represents Chicago, the home of chewing gum giant Wrigley.

But Singapore has not removed its strict ban completely, agreeing only to allow sales of "therapeutic" gum in pharmacies, and only to those with a prescription.

Pfizer, the company that makes the Nicorette, plans to send senior executives to Singapore to officially launch the gum.

Singapore's ban on chewing gum has often been cited by critics as an example of the city-state's overly strict laws.

The penalty for smuggling gum into the country is one year in jail, and a 10,000 Singapore dollar ($5,500) fine.

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