Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Fight for your health

By Cheng Ting-yuan , BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

It comes as no surprise that the amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Control Statute (菸害防制法) failed to pass in the Legislative Yuan after opposition from pan-blue party caucuses.

Anti-tobacco advocates and the tobacco lobby groups fought tooth and nail, but once again the people of Taiwan were the losers.

It is like David versus Goliath: The resources belonging to these two groups are vastly disproportionate.

In what can be considered another Taiwanese miracle, local tobacco manufacturers and lobby groups openly courted the public via the press.

However, only a few people, mostly volunteers, speak up for the health of the community. The anti-smoking campaign should be encouraged and supported by everyone; only then can Goliath's strength be overcome.

It goes without saying that smoking and second-hand smoke kill people and there is a pile of evidence to support this. Over 50 years ago, reports from both the British and US surgeons general were published establishing this, and Western societies started to stand up and say "no" to tobacco.

This turned a new page in the history of public health and showed the advances that human society is capable of making.

Western countries make every effort to limit the growth of tobacco products nowadays, because high smoking rates are shameful for modern societies. People in these countries really care about their health and are aware that smoking is harmful.

Most importantly, they say this out loud and encourage people to quit smoking.

Even a giant would be scared if all the people got together to stand up to him.

Things have changed. Nowadays in the US the tobacco industry would not dare to yell at Congress or show itself to the media.

I feel sad that the director of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp repeated the hackneyed paradox that smokers' rights should be respected.

A DPP legislator has also asked what should be done in terms of protocol if a non-smoker enters a room where four people are smoking.

What a silly question: It's like asking what should happen if four people urinate in a public swimming pool.

We need more scientific evidence in Taiwan instead of these archaic arguments that have been abandoned by the Western world.

The key element to making Taiwan a smoke-free society is the average person's voice. Many people die of cancer and heart and lung disease every day. Who are they? They are our relatives and friends. What is causing them to fall sick and die? Cigarettes.

No one wants this tragedy to keep on repeating itself, so we need to work to prevent it altogether.

Taiwanese people, both smokers and non-smokers alike, should regard staying healthy as their first priority in life.

Let us stand up and support the amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Control Statute. We should protect the people we love and not let the tobacco industry take them away from us.

Cheng Ting-Yuan

Baltimore, Maryland

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