Smokers beware. The Taoyuan County Government will be designating 15 more public parks as smoke-free environments on New Year’s Day, eventually making for a total of 68 smoke-free parks in the county. In accordance with the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, violators caught smoking in these parks could receive fines of between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000. The Taiwan Smokers’ Helpline (0800-636363) is available for people who would like to quit smoking, or you can contact smoking cessation clinics at any hospital.
The 15 public parks that will be designated smoke-free environments starting on New Year’s Day are primarily located around schools and residential areas, including Taoyuan City’s Renai Amusement Park for Kids, Jhongli City’s Guangming and Lyuguang parks, Pingjhen City’s Guangren Park, Bade City’s Guangfong Park, the park next to the Indigenous Culture Center in Dasi Township, Yangmei City’s Shuangrong Culture Park for Kids, Lujhu Township’s Jilin Park, Dayuan Township’s Pusin Pond Park, Gueishan Township’s Fongshu Park No.2 and Ciansi Riverside Park, Longtan Township’s City Government Park, Sinwu Township’s No. 7 Amusement Park for Children, Guanyin Township’s Caolei Children’s Park and the plaza next to Fusing Township’s Jiaoban Mountain Park.
According to statistics from the Taoyuan County Government Public Health Bureau, approximately 300,000 people in Taoyuan County are smokers, or around 10 percent of the county’s total population. The bureau has set up 53 smoke-free public parks since it started promoting them two years ago. During this time, more than 5,000 people have been issued warnings not to smoke at the parks and more than 200,000 cigarette butts have been picked up. There is no record of anyone being fined, however, so people are generally under the impression that smoke-free parks are only for show and would rather see the government increase patrol staff to better enforce fines against violators.
Chiang Yu-chin, chief of the bureau’s health promotion section, says that parks are supposed to be recreational areas providing people with a place to get some fresh air. People go to parks for leisure and children play there, Chiang says, adding that promoting smoke-free parks can help people avoid secondhand smoke and reduce the amount of cigarette butts polluting the environment. Volunteers patrol the parks every day and issue warnings to people who are caught smoking in the parks. Police also periodically patrol the parks. If you see someone violating the smoking ban at the parks, you can report them to the bureau, Chiang says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)