A New Taipei City man who challenged a fine he received for importing e-cigarettes won the suit, after a district court ruled that the products fell outside of the scope of current tobacco laws.
The man, surnamed Yang (楊), was fined NT$10,000 for contravening the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) when he imported a case of e-cigarettes in May last year.
Saying the fine was unjust, Yang filed an administrative appeal.
Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times
In the ruling on Feb. 24, the New Taipei District Court judge said that as the e-cigarettes Yang imported were not in the shape of cigarettes they could not be regulated under the act.
Whether the manufacture, import or sale of e-cigarette devices that are not in the shape of cigarettes should be legally regulated when they do not contain nicotine products remains a problem for lawmakers to discuss, the judge said.
Enforcement of such products in the absence of relevant laws affects free trade and property rights, the judge said.
During the trial Yang argued that the e-cigarettes — which were listed as “props” on the customs waybill — could not be used for smoking on their own.
Nicotine-containing oils must be inserted into the devices before they can be used for smoking, he said.
Also, as the devices were not in the shape of cigarettes, they could not be used to promote smoking, and therefore should not be regulated under tobacco laws, he said.
The Health Promotion Administration’s classification of e-cigarette devices as tobacco products was its own expansion of the scope of tobacco laws, which do not cover these devices, the judge said.
Meanwhile, the New Taipei City Government said that it advocated including “complete e-cigarette devices, as well as all e-cigarette device components” in the act.
The e-cigarettes imported by Yang had an overall tubular shape similar to that of a cigar, and produce smoke using a solenoid, it said, adding that the devices should be regulated under the act due to their shape and design.
The judge said that the size, weight, shape and color of the devices were all distinguishable from cigars or cigarettes.
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