Consumer protection advocates on Tuesday issued an urgent call to revise regulations for tobacco and other products after it found that e-cigarettes and date-rape drugs can be easily purchased on Shopee.
An investigation by the Consumer Protection Association in Taiwan found multiple vendors on the Singapore-based site selling colorful candies as a cover for e-cigarettes.
Through these vendors, it is possible to buy an e-cigarette cartridge for only NT$150, or a full set with a heating element for NT$800, the association said.
Sellers have been adapting their tactics as the government debates the best way to regulate novel cigarette products through the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法).
Meanwhile, e-cigarette use among young people is on the rise, association president Grace Yang (楊月雲) told a news conference.
Between 2014 and 2019, the percentage of high-school students who use e-cigarettes rose from 2.1 to 5.6 percent, she said, citing a Ministry of Health and Welfare survey.
This works out to an estimated 36,000 students across Taiwan, she added.
The US Food and Drug Administration restricts underage people from buying e-cigarettes, but Taiwan has yet to set any regulations, Yang said.
The Legislative Yuan had planned to discuss an amendment to the tobacco hazards act in June, but it was postponed to the next session, she added, stating the urgency of the matter.
Apart from e-cigarettes, the association also discovered date-rape drugs such as gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) labeled with their formal names for sale on Shopee for only NT$399 each.
GHB is a potent central nervous system depressant that can cause memory loss, grogginess, nausea and other symptoms, association medical committee member Liu Li-fen (劉麗芬) said.
As it is colorless and odorless, it is a often used as a date-rape drug that can be surreptitiously added to a person’s drink, she said.
This issue requires strict investigation, the association said, calling on central and local governments to pressure platforms into taking down inappropriate products or blocking vendors.
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