Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taipei hails success of smoking bans, anti-cigarette steps

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Health is crediting its stringent ban on smoking in all indoor public spaces and some outdoor venues, along with the growing awareness of the health risks of tobacco use, for a drop of 130,000 in the number of city residents who smoke.

“According to Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics, Taipei’s smoking prevalence among adults aged 18 and above has dropped from 18.9 percent in 2008 to 12.9 percent last year, the lowest among major cities and counties nationwide,” Health Promotion Division chief Lin Li-ju (林莉茹) said.

Smoking is prohibited at 237 outdoor public areas, including the sidewalks around 24 schools, the areas near 13 exclusive bus lanes, 155 bus stops and parts of the Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) in the Datong District (大同), Lin said, making it inconvenient to light up.

Statistics show that only five out of every 100 men who rely solely on willpower to quit smoking succeed, compared with the 32.5 percent of Taipei residents who used the second-generation Smoking Cessation Program for help quitting.

The program was implemented in March 2012, but as of Jan. 12 it offers smoking cessation drugs that are fully covered by the National Health Insurance system in 3,049 hospitals, clinics and community pharmacies nationwide.

Smokers using the service are only required to pay a medical registration fee ranging from NT$50 to NT$250 per visit, and pay just 20 percent of the cost of medication, with a cap of NT$200 per prescription. Previously, they had to pay all the costs beyond the maximum weekly subsidy of NT$250.

“In an effort to boost people’s efforts to kick the habit ahead of the Lunar New Year, the department instituted a trial measure that exempts smokers using the service at the city’s 48 hospitals and clinics by the end of this month from paying registration fees,” Lin said.

Wu Hsein-lin (吳憲林), a doctor who works in Taiwan Adventist Hospital’s Stop Smoking Unit, said cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals.

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