In his memoirs, Lee Kuan Yew said that in 1983, when he was Prime Minister of Singapore, a proposal for the ban was brought to him by Teh Cheang Wan, then Minister for National Development. Chewing gum was causing maintenance problems in high-rise public-housing apartments, with vandals disposing of spent gum in mailboxes, inside keyholes, and on lift buttons. Chewing gum left on the ground, stairways, and pavements in public areas increased the cost of cleaning and damaged cleaning equipment. Gum stuck on the seats of public buses was also considered a problem. However, Lee thought that a ban would be "too drastic".
The sale of chewing gum in Singapore has been illegal since 1992. Since 2004, an exception has existed for therapeutic, dental, and nicotine chewing gum, which can be bought from a doctor or registered pharmacist. It is not illegal to chew gum in Singapore, but it is against the law to import it and sell it, apart from the aforementioned exceptions.
After the ban was announced, the importation of chewing gum was immediately halted. After a transition period allowing shops to clear existing stock, the sale of chewing gum was completely banned, with penalties being fines of up to S$2,000 for those convicted of selling chewing gum as well as fines and/or jail terms for importers. Extant stocks of gum were confiscated