There is not enough evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit and anyone promoting such a claim could face legal action, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday.
Neither the safety of e-cigarettes nor their efficacy in helping wean smokers of their dependence on nicotine has been scientifically proven, the agency said, citing the WHO.
The comments came in response to a report about a product advertised as able to help smokers kick their addiction.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare categorized e-cigarettes as a regulated drug in 2009 under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法).
Anyone who manufactures or imports e-cigarettes that have not been registered and obtained regulatory approval could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of NT$10 million (US$333,600).
Anyone convicted of knowingly selling unapproved e-cigarettes could face up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of NT$5 million, the agency said.
The report contravened the pharmaceutical act by claiming that the product, which has not been registered, alleviates tobacco addiction, it added.
The company that placed the advertisement could face a fine ranging from NT$600,000 to NT$25 million, the agency said.
By law, unapproved e-cigarettes used in public indoor places can be confiscated by local health authorities.
Since the vapor from e-cigarettes poses a potential health risk to both users and others nearby, the Indoor Air Quality Management Act (室內空氣品質管理法) allows authorities to impose penalties on managers of the sites where e-cigarettes are used.