The ban on the sale of chewing gum in Singapore is possibly the most well-known law in the world. It was one of the main things that Western journalists focused on when writing about the city-state when it first came to light in the early 1990s.
The Ministers of National Development approached Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, about a chewing gum ban in the early 1980s, according to him.
Some initial controls were implemented at the time, such as a prohibition on television advertisements that promoted the sale or consumption of chewing gum.
For years, the Housing Development Board was said to have spent S$150,000 a year cleaning up gum that had been discarded on sidewalks, in keyholes, around housing estates, and even on public transportation seats.
Initially, Lee Kuan Yew was opposed to a complete ban, agreeing with opponents that it was an overly harsh measure that could be remedied more easily through education and the imposition of fines on repeat offenders.
With the introduction of the Mass Rapid Transit system in 1987, everything changed.
The system had a $5 billion price tag, and politicians were ecstatic about how it would modernise, if not revolutionise, the city-state.
Chewing gum had officially worn out its welcome on the island when people began sticking chewing gum on train door sensors, causing the doors to malfunction and resulting in lengthy train service disruptions.