Sat, Oct 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

E-cigarettes present health hazard: minister

NEW RISKS:An academic study found that most heat-not-burn products are heated to more than 90°C, at which point they release ‘highly toxic’ formaldehyde cyanohydrin

By Wu Hsin-tian, Wu Chia-jung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

E-cigarettes, e-cigarette liquids and smoking-related paraphernalia are displayed on Feb. 13.
Warning: Smoking can damage your health.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration

As the Legislative Yuan considers amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) to clamp down on e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products, the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday said that it opposes both classes of tobacco.

HNB refers to a class of tobacco products that are electrically heated to generate smoke or an aerosol containing nicotine.

The Executive Yuan has drafted the original amendments and parts of the bill have passed their first reading at the legislature.

The bill would add a legal definition of e-cigarettes to national law, prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and forbid the manufacture, import, sale, display or advertising of e-cigarettes that have not obtained pharmaceutical or medical device licenses.

While the bill makes no reference to HNB products, lawmakers during discussion of the bill have expressed a desire to regulate those products as well.

Commenting on the issue, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that the ministry is unequivocally opposed to e-cigarettes and HNB products, which it sees as a possible public health hazard.

However, more expert views are needed before the ministry can make specific recommendations for the control or regulation of the latter category, he said.

“My concern is that legislation would encourage the [HNB] industry to import, while an absence of legislation could lead to underground use of the product, only making enforcement more difficult,” he said.

The National Treasury Administration said the agency cannot tax e-cigarettes and HNB products, because the two classes of substances have no legal status under the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act (菸酒管理法).

Until the legal status of e-cigarettes and HNB products is clarified, they are to be confiscated by customs at the border as unauthorized imports and would not be exempt from tariffs, it said.

According to a paper published in March by academic journal Tobacco Control, HNB products are usually heated to temperatures exceeding 90°C, causing the release of formaldehyde cyanohydrin, which is “highly toxic at very low concentrations.”

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