To curb smoking, the government is planning to impose a more stringent ban on electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and enlarge health warning graphics on cigarette packets.
Lawmakers and Cabinet officials at a coordination meeting between the Executive Yuan and the Democratic Progressive Party caucus on Monday agreed to impose a more encompassing and forceful ban on e-cigarettes to lower smoking rates.
A draft amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), which the Executive Yuan is to approve and submit to the legislature on Thursday, is to ban the manufacture, import, sale and advertising of e-cigarettes.
Under the amendment, the manufacture and importation of e-cigarettes would be punishable by a fine of NT$50,000 to NT$250,000, while the sale of e-cigarettes and their use in non-smoking areas would be punishable by a fine of NT$10,000 to NT$50,000, Cabinet deputy spokeswoman Chang Hsiu-chen (張秀禎) said.
E-cigarettes are currently banned based on an order issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, but it is not codified in the act, leaving legal wiggle room, Chang said.
“It is estimated that between 60,000 and 70,000 junior and senior-high school students in Taiwan have used e-cigarettes. Teenagers who have used them are six times more likely to smoke regular cigarettes, so the government must ban e-cigarettes to protect teenagers’ health,” Chang said.
As e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they are also addictive, Chang said, adding that the WHO has advised their regulation.
“The possession and use of e-cigarettes is legal, but should be regulated as regular cigarettes, meaning that people under 18 and pregnant women are prohibited from using e-cigarettes, and it is illegal to use them in non-smoking areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, the amendment would also require cigarette producers to increase the size of health warning graphics to 85 percent of the size of the packet.
Only 35 percent of a cigarette packet is required to be covered by a health warning graphic under current regulations.
The amendment would also ban flavored cigarettes, as well as require the government to provide legal and medical assistance to people who have sustained injuries or damage after attempting to dissuade people from smoking or refusing to offer cigarettes to underage people.
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