The Taiwan Medical Alliance for the Control of Tobacco (TMACT) has called on the government to follow the lead of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative and set out an agenda to gradually end tobacco use.
Ending tobacco use was the theme of this year’s International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st century, in which experts suggested the reduction of tobacco use to less than 5 percent of the population, the alliance said, adding that public acceptance of tobacco use should also change.
The alliance said that Taiwan has progress in five of the six strategies promoted by the WHO on tobacco control: the monitoring of tobacco use; expanding smoke-free areas; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco use; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising the prices of tobacco products.
Taiwan has lagged behind in levying more taxes and surcharges on tobacco, which has been widely recognized as the most effective way of reducing tobacco use, the group said, citing New Zealand as an example of having its endgame set in 2025, with its tobacco price scheduled to surge to NT$480 per package in 2015, which is seven times more than that of Taiwan.
The Executive Yuan has proposed to raise the tobacco surcharge by NT$10, and the tax by NT$5, a move that has received full support from the alliance, which estimates that the increase in price would decrease the number of smokers in the country by 500,000 to 600,000, the alliance said.