Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Page 1 News List

'Smoke-free Taiwan' takes effect today

LIGHTING UP IS OUT Smoking is now banned at bus stops, train station platforms, pubs and restaurants, while at Taipei Zoo it'll be no puffing when visiting the pandas

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the new Tobacco Hazard Prevention and Control Act (菸害防制法) to take effect today, Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) yesterday joined several other health officials and members of anti-smoking group the John Tung Foundation to mark the introduction of smoke-free public environments.

The new act bans smoking at indoor facilities designed for more than three people, such as government offices, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, Internet cafes and karaoke bars. There are only a few exceptions to the rule — locations equipped with indoor smoking rooms that have independent air conditioning and bars that open after 9pm and forbid the entry of people under the age of 18.

It also stipulates that owners of establishments that sell cigarettes, including convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants and betel nut stands, may not actively market or display tobacco-related ads.

It will also be illegal to smoke at bus stops, on train station platforms or at any other waiting areas. Business owners must display no-smoking signs and are not allowed to provide customers with cigarettes or any smoking-related items. Infractions will result in fines of between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000. Individuals found smoking in smoke-free facilities will be fined between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000.

Some outdoor areas, such as children’s playgrounds, amusement parks and zoos will also prohibit smoking, Yeh said.

“So when people go see the pandas [at Taipei City Zoo], remember, no smoking,” he said.

The minister and the John Tung Foundation celebrated the start of “Smoke-free Taiwan” with Spring Festival couplets (春聯) in front of a department store in Taipei yesterday.

Yeh, citing a survey conducted by his department, said that as of yesterday, about 90 percent of the public was aware of the new regulations.

When asked about how the department plans to deal with violators, especially in places such as karaoke bars where people may illegally smoke behind closed doors, Yeh said the department would rely on business owners’ cooperation, such as having waiters tell smokers to put out their cigarettes.

“Sixteen other countries have established smoke-free environments already,” Yeh said. “Although we are a bit behind, we are now catching up with the rest of the world.”

It may take a while for the public to get used to the new regulations, John Tung Foundation president Yau Sea-wain (姚思遠) said.

“Hong Kong and Singapore, to name two places, had to go through this phase of adjustment. We are confident Taiwan can do it, too,” Yau said.

For more information on the new tobacco regulations, visit http://health99.doh.gov.tw.

Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act

The new Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act (菸害防制法) takes effect today. The act bans smoking at indoor facilities designed for more than three people, such as government organizations, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, Internet cafes or karaoke bars. Locations equipped with indoor smoking rooms that have independent air conditioning and bars that open after 9pm and forbid the entry of people under the age of 18 will be exempt.

School campuses, stadiums, or any public outdoor venue frequently visited by children and teenagers will have to abide by the policy.

It will also be illegal to smoke at bus stops, on platforms or at any other waiting areas. Business owners must display no-smoking signs and are not allowed to provide customers with cigarettes or any smoking-related items. Infractions will result in fines of between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000. Individuals found smoking in smoke-free facilities will be fined between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000.

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