Thu, May 30, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet hopes to get tough on tobacco with new laws

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

People who enjoy smoking and chatting at cafes and restaurants may want to think twice about their pastime because it could cost them between NT$20,000 and NT$100,000 in fines.

The Executive Yuan yesterday approved draft amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (煙害防治法) that would prevent smoking in public places such as schools, museums and cafes.

It would also forbid proprietors and staffers of such public places from offering cigarettes to those under the age of 18 and free cigarettes to consumers.

The proposal will proceed to the legislature for further review and final approval.

Addressing a press conference held after the weekly closed-door Cabinet affairs meeting yesterday morning, Cabinet Spokesman Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said that it is necessary to amend the law, which went into effect in September 1997.

"Although the law was last amended in January 2000, we found that some articles are either incomplete or difficult to implement," Chuang said.

According to the proposal, people would be banned from smoking at schools, libraries, swimming pools and other public places.

Smoking would be allowed, however, in smoking areas set aside in certain public places. The size of those areas would not be allowed to exceed that of the venue's non-smoking area.

The smoking area would also have to be separate from the non-smoking area and have a separate air conditioning and ventilation system.

With the approval of the authorities, tobacco companies would be allowed to post advertisements in magazines that do not target readers under 18.

The total number of advertisements run by one tobacco company, however, however, will not be permitted to exceed 120 per year. Violators would face a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million.

The amendments would also require cigarette packages to carry consumer warnings on their labels and terms such as "low tar" would be banned.

Violators of those rules would face fines between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000.

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