John Tung Foundation calls for tough e-cigarette control

NO HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE::The foundation said that the devices should be put under the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, as they hurt teens and encourage relapses

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - Page 3

The anti-smoking John Tung Foundation said it is deeply worried about the refusal of health authorities to put e-cigarettes under the control of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), saying it “amounts to legalizing the product and allowing its abuse.”

The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said on Thursday that it “objects to the liberalization and abuse of any addictive substance.”

The HPA said placing e-cigarettes under the supervision of the Act would amount to opening the market for the devices and giving free support to the industry’s false advertising, which describes therapeutic effects for people who wish to quit smoking and relatively low toxicity when compared with cigarettes.

The agency said the existing regulation of e-cigarettes as pharmaceutical products that need to be examined and registered before entering the market, in accordance with the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), is a supervision measure of “the highest level.”

The foundation on Friday said that the hazards caused by electronic cigarettes are “hurting teenagers and encouraging smoking relapse,” as the product can be easily obtained through the Internet, at street stands and in small shops.

The group said that if the present regulation is truly the strictest and “of the highest level,” health authorities should immediately issue fines and penalties for the 900 violations reported by various non-governmental organizations over the past five years, to stem the illegal sale and use of e-cigarettes.

The foundation also criticized the claim made by the HPA that the US’ recognition of e-cigarettes as cigarettes, under the pressure from the tobacco industry, has resulted in the abuse of the product among young Americans, adding that the US lacks a comprehensive law governing e-cigarettes and is — along with European countries — in the process of determining an effective response.