With only two weeks until the new Tobacco Hazard Prevention and Control Act (菸害防治法) takes effect, civic groups yesterday urged shop owners who sell cigarettes to make sure that their display areas comply with the new law.
The new regulations, effective on Jan. 11, not only prohibit smoking in public spaces, but also stipulate 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.
The regulations will also apply to airplanes and duty-free shops at airports.
“Under the new rules, any place that sells cigarettes is limited to ‘letting the customer know the cigarette brand and price.’ Any action beyond this limitation is considered a violation,” said Yau Sea-wain (姚思遠), president of the John Tung Foundation.
Yau listed several examples of practices by store owners that will become illegal once the law takes effect, including cigarette ads in the form of posters, lighted panel displays, loudspeaker announcements, electronic billboards, storefront displays, point-of-sale displays and placing cigarette products within easy reach of customers.
Violators will be subject to fines of up to NT$500,000.
Some convenience stores give gifts to customers who spend more than a certain amount, but starting on Jan. 11, cigarette purchases will not be included in such offers, Yau said.
Manufacturing, importing or selling candy or toys in the shape of cigarettes will also be prohibited, he said.
“At airports, we often hear sales clerks greet us by saying things like: ‘Duty-free cigarettes here!’ On airplanes, flight attendants ask if we need to buy cigarettes or openly display the products on a cart and put cigarette catalogues in the seat pockets for passengers to read. But all of these would violate the new act,” said Yiu Kai-hsiung (游開雄), publisher of the Consumers Foundation’s Consumer Reports of Taiwan.
Owners of betel nut stands normally display cigarettes facing outward. Under the new law, betel nut stands will have to cover up the cigarettes or face fines of up to NT$50,000, Yiu said.
To help businesses take measures to ensure they do not violate the new act, the John Tung Foundation has created several self-assessment forms, available at www.e-quit.org.