Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 3 News List

New tobacco law to allow smoking rooms, HPA says

Staff writer, with CNA

A draft amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), scheduled to be sent to the Executive Yuan by the end of the month, is likely to allow the continued use of indoor smoking rooms in hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, health officials said on Tuesday.

A draft revision to the act, released in January by the Health Promotion Administration (HPA), was originally set to ban smoking in all indoor locations, which it stated was in accordance with findings that indoor partitions do not effectively prevent second-hand smoke from spreading.

The HPA then said it would take 60 days to collect opinions from the public before finalizing the amendment and sending it to the Cabinet for review.

HPA Deputy Director-General Yu Li-hui (游麗惠) said the agency now plans to allow smoking lounges in some locations.

HPA official Lo Su-ying (羅素英) said the draft would not introduce a health surcharge on duty-free tobacco sold at airports as originally planned and would continue to allow smoking lounges in hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

The agency decided to keep the related clauses as the 43 hotels and restaurants who have smoking lounges have said the rooms serve smokers while enabling nonsmokers to avoid inhaling smoke.

The purpose of the amendment was to reduce the number of smokers under the age of 18 and regulate electronic cigarette use in the same way tobacco use is restricted, Lo said, adding that the act prohibits minors — those under the age of 18 — and pregnant women from smoking.

The amendment, as announced in January, would treat e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco and make it illegal to provide them to minors, with violators subject to a fine of up to NT$10,000.

The John Tung Foundation, which focuses on public health issues and tobacco control, said 47 nations and territories forbid smoking in indoor public facilities and accused the HPA of neglecting its responsibility to safeguard people’s health.

Smoking has been illegal on sidewalks near schools in Taipei since Dec. 26 last year and since Jan. 1. has also been prohibited at all of the city’s 932 bus stops.

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