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I have a longstanding habit of chewing nicotine gum. At my age (late forties) I have actually been chewing the gum longer than I was ever a smoker in the first place.

I have to visit Singapore next month for my job. I will be there for about 8 days. Based on several sources, importing nicotine products into Singapore is illegal. I'm aware of Singapore's laws prohibiting gum and spitting on sidewalks. I am not planning to do anything that might get me a caning and a news headline.

What are my options to feed my nicotine addiction while in-country? Do they sell the gum in Singapore? How about nicotine lozenges? Patches? Should I just plan on smoking a cigarette or two each day that I am there?

These two unofficial sites corroborate my claim that stop-smoking products may not be imported (but they do not mention whether those products can be purchased in-country): https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-to-stay-out-of-trouble-in-singapore-1458521 https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/southeast-asia/singapore/singapore-import-restrictions

This site is official and implies that maybe nicotine gum is OK (is nicotine gum part of the definition of "medicated gum"?) https://www.ica.gov.sg/enter-depart/before-your-arrival/what-you-can-bring

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  • Please see the .sg domain website Where to Buy NICORETTE® Products and NICORETTE® Icy Mint Medicated Chewing Gum which says nicotine is absorbed quickly through the lining of your mouth (no affiliation). Jun 26, 2022 at 11:11
  • @Weather Vane hey I think that is the answer I need, thanks! Want to write that into an answer so I can accept it? Also, does it go without saying that if they sell it locally I can legally use it locally? Assuming I don't go spitting it out on the ground of course! Jun 26, 2022 at 16:13
  • Why not cut back on the use of nicotine? In a while you can stop spending that money.
    – Willeke
    Oct 15, 2022 at 7:34
  • @willeke yes good advice. You sound like my doctor though! Oct 16, 2022 at 8:55

2 Answers 2

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No worries! Nicotine replacement products including both gum and patches are widely available in any major pharmacy. Here's the "Where to Buy" page from Nicorette Singapore.

You will, however, need to buy it from a licensed pharmacist. The store locator for Guardian, a major local chain, lists shops with pharmacists ("red cross" icon) and their exact hours under the More Details link: typically 10 AM to 6:30 PM, but there's a lot of variation.

You can also bring your own, since "medicated gum" is explicitly exempted from the import ban.

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+100

I have an upvote for lambshaanxy's answer because it led me to the solution, but I also am writing my own answer.

I entered Singapore completely clean, with no prohibited nicotine products on me. I figured the risk of caning outweighs my addiction to nicotine.

After checking in to my hotel, and based on lambshaanxy's link, I looked up the locations of the "Guardian" chain of drug stores.

At the first one, the clerk looked at me like I had broccoli growing out of my ears. She had never heard of nicotine gum. Too young and immature, I guess! At the second one the clerk was more knowledgeable and told me it was only available at locations with an on-duty pharmacist, she directed me to such a location. I was doubtful at first but had nothing to lose. When I got to the third location, there was indeed a pharmacist who asked me some boilerplate questions and sold me a box of nicorette. Hooray!

The pharmacist's boilerplate questions were along the lines of "have you ever chewed nicotine gum before" and "how long has it been since you quit smoking" so no big deal there.

There was no store brand. Typically in the US I prefer CVS brand. Nicorette is too expensive, while the Target, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid brands suck because they turn my tongue yellow with their funky artificial colors. In Singapore you can get only Nicorette. It was expensive, about $100 for about 50 pieces. But considering the favorable exchange rate and being a brand name, the price was comparable to the US.

I will share a Google maps link to the Guardian store I bought from, that actually has nicotine, but I caution you that GPS phone navigation is largely useless in Singapore because you spend so much time underground or in steel highrises. While the data connectivity in Singapore is excellent, GPS is another story. Because you are almost always either underground or in/near a steel highrise, GPS location sensing is almost useless. GPS signals are rare. Even when they appear to work, they were off by 2-3 blocks. I think the store is two levels below street level, but can't say for sure--it's very disorienting! How to successfully navigate the highrises and underground malls of Singapore is actually very interesting but not the topic of this question.

The third Guardian store, with Nicorette in stock, and an on-duty pharmacist to sell it to you: Guardian +65 6339 2137 https://maps.app.goo.gl/ygzjuqXXSz7uAZn68

I've edited my answer to address Anish's concern that I claim there is no cell signal. What I actually meant is that there is no GPS signal. Cell data is actually excellent in Singapore, but GPS is horrible.

Also in response to Anish, yes everyone speaks English, but most retail and restaurant workers speak English only well enough to do their job. Words like "nicotine" and "Nicorette" are out of their league! I believe the only retail or restaurant worker I encountered that was a native English speaker was the one at a certain Ray-Ban kiosk.

To address lambshaanxy's question about pharmacists being on duty. Apparently some (most?) Guardian stores have no pharmacist on duty ever. Those ones have non-prescription medicines only. Only certain locations have an actual pharmacist accompanied by pharmacist-exclusive products, which includes nicotine gum. My adventures with the three Guardian stores were on a Wednesday evening, no holiday, ranging from about 6pm to 9pm. When I finally found a pharmacist it was about 9pm and thankfully he was still on duty.

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  • You will get Signal everywhere. Just look at the address. #2-43, 120 Random St means, go to 120 random street building, 2nd floor and store number 43. Should be easy to figure it out. Citymapper is helpful than Google maps for public transport. Oct 14, 2022 at 5:00
  • @anish-sheela thanks for the tip, but it was not so easy for a fool like me to figure out how to find the store number 43 (using your example). Yes Singapore has excellent data connectivity, but my phone couldn't get a good GPS signal hardly anywhere! Oct 14, 2022 at 5:10
  • You can ask anyone. Everyone knows English and will be happy to help. Yeah, GPS won't work underground. Oct 14, 2022 at 5:12
  • @AldusBumblebore Thanks for returning to update the site! Most pharmacies in Singapore do have on-duty pharmacists, were you by any chance looking for one late at night/on a Sunday? Oct 14, 2022 at 9:12
  • @AldusBumblebore If you check the Guardian store locator site, it has little "Red Cross" icons for shops with pharmacists (most but not all) plus the exact hours when there's somebody on duty (10am-6:30pm, typically): guardian.com.sg/store-finder Oct 15, 2022 at 6:59

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