Fri, Apr 08, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Smoking advocate protests Taipei plan to enrich ‘rats’

SMOKERS’ RIGHTS?The proposals would encourage members of the public to file reports on each other as they did during the Martial Law era, an activist said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei City Government’s whistle-blower policy aimed at encouraging people to report smokers found to be in breach of regulations would create a “fearful” social atmosphere akin to that of the Martial Law era, when the public were encouraged to report on possible Chinese spies, a protester said yesterday.

Taiwan Smokers’ Rights Promotion Association director-general Chen Chi-an (陳麒安) yesterday protested in front of the Taipei City Hall against a draft bylaw amendment proposed by the Taipei Department of Health that would significantly raise the financial reward paid to members of the public who report smoking infractions.

The department last month said that it was working on draft amendments to a bylaw governing rewards issued to whistle-blowers who report on people posing potential public health risks.

Under the amendment, rewards handed out to informants of people lighting up in smoke-free parks would be raised to between NT$600 and NT$3,000 from between NT$100 and NT$500, while rewards issued to those who report stores selling cigarettes to minors would be raised to between NT$5,000 and NT$25,000 from NT$500 to NT$2,500.

The amendments are expected to take effect in September if they are approved by a city policy meeting.

The proposed amendments are a breach of smokers’ human rights, as they would encourage members of the public to “rat” on each other in a way similar to that used to report Chinese spies who infiltrated the nation during the Martial Law era, Chen said.

The health department should allocate more smoking areas instead, Chen said.

The increased rewards are aimed at deterring potential violators, Health Promotion Division Deputy Director Hsu Fang-yuan (許芳源) said.

It is difficult for people to report people who smoke in non-smoking parks, and people can often walk away from their violations, Hsu said.

Hsu said that 8 percent of minors in Taipei smoke.

He shrugged off Chen’s request that the department allocate more smoking areas, saying that the city already has 119 smoking areas at 52 public places, including popular tourist spots such as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and the National Palace Museum.

In related news, the Taipei Department of Environmental Protection addressed media reports, saying that smokers who allow cigarette ash to fall to the ground, or extinguish their cigarettes by flicking off the filter tips, would be fined.

The department has not made any plans to target filter tips or cigarette ash, Sanitation Inspection Division head Chen Chao-chou (陳沼舟) said.

However, those who throw cigarette butts on the ground may be fined between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000, Chen said.

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