Mon, May 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Petition to legalize heated tobacco exceeds threshold

By Wang Meng-lun  /  Staff reporter

The number of signatories on a petition to legalize heat-not-burn tobacco products is displayed on the government’s public policy participation platform yesterday.

Photo: Wang Meng-lun, Taipei Times

A petition to legalize heat-not-burn tobacco products and subject them to the same health and welfare surcharges as other tobacco products had garnered more than 5,000 signatures on the government’s public policy participation platform as of yesterday.

When a petition receives more than 5,000 signatures, the government agency in charge is required to issue a public response on the platform within two months, or July 17 in this case.

Heat-not-burn tobacco products and e-cigarettes have gained in popularity in the past few years and government around the world have varying policies regarding them.

Japan, South Korea and France allow imports of heated tobacco products, but they are banned in Australia, China and Singapore.

The US Food and Drug Administration in April announced that tobacco giant Philip Morris could market a tobacco heating system in the US, sparking discussions on whether Taiwan should legalize such products.

A petition titled “legalize heat-not-burn tobacco products, but include them in the health and welfare surcharge of tobacco products” was proposed on the National Development Council’s online policy platform on April 27. It was approved two days later and entered the signature collecting period.

According to the platform’s policy, a petition must receive more than 5,000 signatures within 60 days to force a response from the government.

The petition said that Japan, South Korea and Malaysia were among 43 nations to legalize such products last year, and more than 5 million people worldwide use them.

Many people bring heated tobacco products into Taiwan, but there is no law regarding the situation, so the products should be subject to the health and welfare surcharge on tobacco products to improve regulation, the petition reads.

Comments on the petition included: “Many major countries have legalized them, so when will Taiwan catch up?” and: “They are tobacco products like cigarettes, so there is no reason to ban them.”

Taiwan Tobacco Harm Reduction Association chairperson Danny Wang (王郁揚) said the health and welfare surcharge is the main source if funding for the government’s long-term care services, so the president should create new revenue sources for it.

Hopefully, the Executive Yuan would perform its administrative duty, Wang said.

However, the John Tung Foundation and other anti-smoking groups filed a petition with the Executive Yuan, urging it not to legalize new tobacco products.

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