The government intends to reduce the number of smokers by half within nine years, an official said yesterday, referring to the successful implementation of stricter smoking regulations in January 2009.
Bureau of Health Promotion Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) briefed the Cabinet on the effectiveness of anti-smoking measures stipulated in the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) to mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day, designated by the WHO to draw attention to tobacco-related health problems.
There was a significant decline in the percentage of the public affected by second-hand smoke, dropping from 24 percent to 8 percent, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the government’s anti-tobacco measures, Chiou said.
With a second-hand smoke exposure rate of 8 percent, Taiwan had lower exposure in public places than Japan, Canada, China, Thailand, Mexico and Russia.
The number of smokers in Taiwan decreased from 3.5 million in 2008, or 21.9 percent of the adult population, to 3.1 million last year, or 19.1 percent, Chiou said.
Despite this progress, the prevalence of smoking among young and middle-aged men, especially among the less educated, remains high, Chiou said.
The percentage of males who smoked was 33.5 percent, 1.6 times higher than in the US and the UK. More than 40 percent of men aged 26 to 45 smoke and as much as 73.5 percent of men aged 18 to 39 who did not graduate from high school are smokers, Chiou said.
Chiou said the government wanted to decrease this number by half in nine years, one of the goals in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “golden decade” plan.