The Real Reason Chewing Gum Is Banned In Singapore

When you visit different nations, it's amazing how many things are similar to your home country, and how many things are so vastly different. It's a good idea to check out the local laws and expectations before visiting another country, otherwise you may get stuck with an unpleasant surprise (or fine) when you're caught unawares.

The food and a lot of cultural aspects may be surprisingly divergent, but in Singapore they have one rule that comes across as a complete shock to many of its visitors: chewing gum is banned. There are also a few other strict rules in place around the tidiness of the country, including "laws against litter, graffiti, jaywalking, spitting, expelling "mucus from the nose" and urinating anywhere but in a toilet. (If it's a public toilet, you are legally required to flush it)" (via BBC). According to Go Abroad, you can be charged up to $1,000 as a first-time offender breaking the chewing gum ban, which is probably a lot more than it's worth just for a piece of bubble gum.

Singapore's first prime minister wanted to make Singapore cleaner

Chewing gum has been banned in Singapore since 1992, when the former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew created a series of laws designed to make Singapore a "first-world oasis in a third-world region" after its independence in 1965 (via BBC). As the country's first prime minister, Lee was setting the standard to make Singapore a clean utopia, and gum was not part of that plan. U.S. Journalist Tom Plate was able to write a book dictating his conversations with Lee and describes his opinion on why Lee eradicated the substance: "as far as LKY and his team were concerned, the yucky habit, commonplace in the old days, was a palpable enemy of progress. The way to edge forward toward utopia was simple: simply outlaw chewing gum" (per BBC).

Since 2004, "therapeutic" gum can now be sold to those with a prescription, which allows many to enjoy chewing it again. They'd best remember that they'll still be stuck with a hefty fine if they are ever caught spitting it out and leaving it as litter.