Taipei department subsidizing stop smoking programs

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 3

The high incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Taiwan linked to smoking has led the Taipei Department of Health to cooperate with healthcare facilities on “quit smoking” programs.

Health Promotion Administration (HPA) data show that six of the nation’s top 10 leading causes of death are associated with smoking: malignant tumors, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory disease and COPD, the department said.

COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow to and from the lungs, causes chronic bronchitis or pulmonary emphysema, and is one of the most serious chronic diseases in the world, causing an average of one death every 10 seconds, Taipei Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg (黃世傑) said.

HPA data showed COPD has been the seventh-biggest cause of death in Taiwan for three consecutive years, that more than 5,000 people nationwide die annually from COPD, and it is a risk factor for lung disease, he said, adding that COPD cannot be cured, but treatment can relieve its symptoms.

As long-term cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD, the department cooperated with more than 300 healthcare facilities to provide its smoking cessation service, which allows smokers who want to quit to pay just an outpatient registration fee and NT$200 copayment at most for medication.

Wu Hsein-lin (吳憲林), a doctor at Taiwan Adventist Hospital’s Stop Smoking Unit, said a 37-year-old man who began smoking when he was 11 and has asthma began to have difficulty sleeping and often coughed up phlegm.

The man tried to quit smoking for six months, but repeatedly failed before an asthma attack sent him to Adventist’s emergency room in May, where he was diagnosed with COPD and lung function of less than 70 percent, Wu said.

In other health news, the Taipei Department of Environmental Protection said that under a new measure, when an Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast for the next day is 400 or above, the city would cancel classes and suspend outdoor work for the following day.