The government is planning to ban smoking in bars, nightclubs and cigar houses, and place restrictions on e-cigarettes similar to those on tobacco products, Health Promotion Administration (HPA) officials said.
The law bans smoking at most public places, but permits it at cigar houses as well as bars and nightclubs that are open after 9pm for people above the age of 18.
Smoking is also allowed in certain indoor areas of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls that are equipped with separate smoking partitions with independent air-conditioning systems.
Photo: Lin Yen-tung, Taipei Times
However, a draft amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), which was announced by the ministry on Wednesday, seeks to ban smoking in all those places, HPA official Lo Su-ying (羅素英) said.
Lo said the change follows international trends and is based on findings that indoor partitions cannot effectively prevent cigarette smoke from spreading through the air.
The amendment would also ban e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco, and make it illegal to provide them to people under the age of 18, with violators subject to a fine of up to NT$10,000 (US$313), Lo said.
E-cigarettes have emerged as a new threat to people’s health and could expose minors to smoking at an early age, Lo said, adding that the amendment would also ban e-cigarette advertisements and sponsorships.
According to HPA statistics, at least 20,000 Taiwanese die from cigarette-caused illnesses each year.
More than 40 percent of Taiwanese men aged between 31 and 50 are smokers, a much higher percentage compared with 24.9 percent in Singapore, 22.5 percent in Norway, 19.9 percent in Hong Kong and 19 percent in New Zealand, statistics showed.
The John Tung Foundation, an organization that focuses on public health issues and tobacco control, said it is glad to see the draft amendment, but urged the government to raise fines.
Yau Seu-wain (姚思遠), a law professor and chief executive officer of the foundation, said tobacco manufacturers and importers are only fined between NT$5 million and NT$25 million for violations, even though their total revenues are “about NT$160 billion per year.”
Yau called for suspending the operations of tobacco manufacturers and importers for up to three years and doubling their fines to between NT$10 million and NT$50 million if they are caught illegally advertising or promoting tobacco products three times.
The HPA said it would collect opinions for a period of 60 days, before sending the draft amendment to the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan for review.
The proposed amendment follows a slew of new regulations in Taiwan to tighten smoking restrictions.
Beginning on Dec. 26 last year, smoking has been banned on sidewalks near 267 schools in Taipei and has been banned at all 932 bus stops in Taipei as of Sunday last week.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did