The nation’s number of smokers has declined over the past three years, but their average daily consumption of cigarettes has increased over the same period, a Department of Health report shows.
The department released the report to mark the third anniversary of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), which took effect on Jan. 11, 2009.
The report said the number of smokers shrank by 420,000 over the past three years, but per capita daily consumption has increased to 18.9 cigarettes.
The act greatly expanded the categories of mandatory smoke-free places to include indoor public places and indoor workplaces with a staff of three or more people.
Feng Chung-yi (馮宗蟻), a researcher at the Bureau of Health promotion’s Health Education Center, said the center had conducted an extensive survey to examine the impact of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act on smoking.
Citing the survey, Feng said about 90 percent of respondents felt that the act has had a positive impact on the campaign to create a smoke-free environment.
Reported exposure to second-hand smoke in public places declined from 23.7 percent in 2008 to 8.2 percent last year, the survey showed.
However, 10 percent of respondents still said they had been -exposed to second-hand smoke in public places, Feng said.
The survey also showed that exposure to second-hand smoke in workplaces dropped from 32.1 percent in 2008 to 19.9 percent last year, while the ratio of second-hand smoke exposure in households fell from 27.2 percent to 19.9 percent during the same period.
“The figures indicate that the effort to ban smoking in major public places has partially paid off, but there is still ample room for improvements in eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke in homes and workplaces,” Feng said.
The number of smokers aged over 18 has fallen by an estimated 420,000 since the implementation of the stricter anti-smoking law three years ago.
However, there are signs of an upward trend in cigarette consumption, Feng said.
The health bureau study showed that average daily consumption of increased to 18.9 cigarettes last year from 18.1 in 2010. The figure for male smokers rose to 20 last year.
“Quitting smoking is not easy. Although the number of smokers has declined, total cigarette consumption has increased because smokers are consuming more,” Feng said.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Finance showed that as of the end of October, total cigarette consumption had reached 1.56 billion packs last year, a 4.7 percent increase year-on-year.
Over the past three years, city and county health bureaus have conducted 3.35 million inspections and collected more than NT$50 million (US$1.7 million) in fines for violations of the anti-smoking law.
In the first 11 months of last year, 4,880 people were fined or disciplined for smoking in smoke-free areas.