The Bureau of Health Promotion said yesterday that its latest quit smoking program has been successful and estimated the percentage of smokers in the country will drop from 20 percent to 10 percent by 2020.
The number of people who took advantage of the program, launched in March this year, was approximately five times the number who sought professional help last year, said Yen Chi-hua (顏啟華), director of the Department of Geriatrics at Chung Shan Medical University Hospital.
Under the new program, medical fees were cut from between NT$800 and NT$1,500 to NT$200 per week, as part of the government’s efforts to encourage more people to give up smoking.
The three-month success rate reached 58 percent, while 30 percent of participants managed to avoid smoking for six months, Yen said at a ceremony held by the bureau to recognize medical institutes’ quit smoking programs.
Hospitals and clinics in local communities are working together to build a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to keep track of individuals who take part in the programs, he added.
Since Taiwan established the first smoke-free hospital network in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010, a total of 113 institutions in have joined the effort, Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director-general of the bureau, said at the ceremony.
In April, out of the six gold award winners for global smoke-free healthcare services at the ENSH Gold Forum, five hospitals were from Taiwan — Taiwan Adventist Hospital, St Martin De Porres Hospital, Cathay General Hospital, Jianan Mental Hospital and Taiwan Landseed Hospital, she said.
The bureau will further recommend Changhua Christian Hospital, New Taipei City Hospital and three other medical institutions as candidates for next year’s award, Chiou said.
According to the bureau, 2,151 hospitals had provided new quit smoking services to 43,356 people as of August, with a success rate of 30.7 percent, up from 26.4 percent recorded the previous year.