Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Tobacco ads, smoking targeted in new amendments

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Bureau of Health Promotion said yesterday that it has drafted amendments to the Tobacco Control Act (菸害防治法) aimed at curbing tobacco advertising and consumption.

The efforts of the Department of Health bureau are aimed at bringing the nation's tobacco regulations into conformity with the anti-smoking treaty devised by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

On Jan. 14, the Legislative Yuan ratified the FCTC even though Taiwan is not a WHO member

The framework was drafted by the WHO's 192 member states in 2003.

As the FCTC demands that warning labels be printed on tobacco packaging, the bureau's amendments state that health warnings and messages on tobacco products and their outside packaging shall occupy at least 30 percent of the principal display areas.

The bureau has also considered changing the law to increase the penalties for those who smoke in public places as well as for those proprietors who allow smokers to smoke outside designated smoking rooms in their restaurants, pubs, KTV, Internet cafes or bowling alleys.

Under the current law, people who smoke in public places can face fines ranging from NT$1,000 to NT$ 3,000.

Proprietors who violate the law can be fined between NT$10,000 to NT$30,000.

"We will also use taxation to reduce consumption and increase revenues for the national health insurance program," said Chao Kun-yu (趙坤郁), the bureau's deputy director.

The bureau wants to raise the health tax levied on cigarettes from NT$5 per pack to NT$10.

"The proposals may trigger and increase in cigarette prices, which could hurt the tobacco industry," Chao said.

"Nevertheless, protecting the public's health is surely more important than protecting the industry's interests," he said.

The bureau will submit the draft amendments to the Executive Yuan later this month for further review.

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