Out of a total of 282 smoking ban violations in Taipei, more than two dozen cases related to adults illegally giving cigarettes to minors, the Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday, adding that it has run a total of 63,285 inspections in the city to enforce smoking regulations.
Thirty cases of handing cigarettes to youths under the age of 18 were filed, the department said.
Seventy-nine smoking violations took place on buses, taxis and other public transportation, while other locations included hospitals, school campuses, KTVs, Internet cafes and billiard rooms, the department’s Health Promotion Division director Lin Meng-hui (林夢蕙) said.
As for cases of illegally selling or giving cigarettes to minors, a fine of NT$10,000 was imposed on each of the 20 retailers or betel nut stalls that sold cigarettes to young people without confirming their age, while four adults were fined NT$10,000 each for giving cigarettes to teenagers. Six teenagers who gave cigarettes to other minors were sent to receive educational guidance, Lin said.
A total of NT$1.1 million (US$33,097) in fines was imposed on people who violated smoking laws.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified more than 7,000 types of chemical compounds in cigarette smoke, Lin said, adding that, among them, 93 are carcinogenic, including 15 chemical compounds listed as Group 1 carcinogens — meaning there is sufficient evidence that they cause cancer in humans.
According to statistics released by the Health Promotion Administration, the prevalence of smoking is 5 percent among junior-high school students and 11.6 percent among high school and vocational school students, with 34 percent of them first beginning to smoke when they were 12 or 13 years old.
The department said teenagers are usually more easily influenced by others, so the prevalence of smoking among teenagers who have friends that smoke is 10 times that of those who do not have friends who smoke, and 2.2 times for those who have parents who smoke, compared with those who do not.
During the winter vacation, the department is to continue its inspections at public spaces, especially movie theaters, recreation centers, KTVs, Internet cafes and at places frequented by teenagers, to clamp down on teenage smoking, it said, adding that retailers should remember to ask teenagers for identification to prove their age before selling cigarettes to them.
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