The John Tung Foundation and other civic groups yesterday made an urgent call for revisions to tobacco regulations aimed at smoking, after studies showed a rising number of young people were picking up the habit.
More than 150 civic groups called for tighter tobacco restrictions that would mitigate the harmful effects of exposure to second-hand smoke and the “excessive marketing and advertisement efforts” by tobacco companies.
About one in five adults in Taiwan smokes cigarettes, a proportion similar to that in Western countries.
However, the foundation said a chilling statistic showed that in the past three years, the proportion of young people who smoked had increased from 6 percent to about 8 percent.
“Taiwan has not increased the cigarette tax in 24 years,” John Tung Foundation president Yau Sea-wain (姚思遠) said. “The lack of action to make cigarettes more expensive is not helping to curb demand for cigarettes.”
The foundation and other groups said amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) were needed to increase the tobacco health surcharge, as well as prohibiting smoking in all indoor public areas and workplaces.
The foundation also called for restrictions on the packaging of cigarettes and displays in stores, such as increasing the proportion of surface area on cigarette packaging for warnings on the harmful effects of tobacco from the current 35 percent to as much as 90 percent.
The goal is to minimize recognition of cigarette brands among young people and their exposure to marketing techniques by cigarette companies, which have sought to create brand loyalty among young people, the foundation said.
The groups said that even though Taiwan signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, which vows to curb cigarette smoking, the government had made few improvements in its laws and implementation to adhere to the treaty.
The convention was the world’s first global public health treaty. It was also the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO.
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