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Selling e-cigs on the internet against the law網路販售電子菸 全違法( Taipei Times )

發佈日期: 2014-04-01

Since July last year the Taipei City Government’s Department of Health has received reports from the public for 86 Web sites selling 119 electronic cigarettes or digital vapor devices illegally on the Internet. Many people use the devices as smoking cessation tools, while the department says that none of the products on the market have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, adding that the products typically contain nicotine and can cause addiction or even cancer if used for an extended period.

Shen Mei-li, deputy director of the department’s food and drug division, says that the ministry added e-cigarettes and digital vapor devices containing nicotine to the list of pharmaceutical products under its jurisdiction in March 2009. None of the products have been approved yet.

Among the 119 criminal reports received, Shen says that six cases in which sellers were in Taipei are being handled by the appropriate investigative authorities. The main reason is that the merchandise contains nicotine or that the advertisements for the products say they contain nicotine, which violates the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act. Any person who manufactures or imports counterfeit or prohibited drugs shall be subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years and fined up to NT$10 million (US$330,295). Other cases for sellers located outside Taipei have been transferred to the appropriate local government agencies to be investigated or are still being processed.

Lin Li-ju, head of the department’s health promotion division, says that if an e-cigarette looks like a real cigarette it can easily become a tool for adolescents to pretend they are smoking, eventually allowing them to adopt the habit of smoking actual cigarettes. This violates the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, Lin says, adding that people manufacturing or exporting e-cigarettes can be fined between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000, while anyone selling such products can be fined between NT$1,000 and NT$3,000.

Lin says that 16 of the 119 cases reported for products that looked like cigarettes were being sold by retailers located in cities or counties outside Taipei, with 11 of them located in New Taipei City — or nearly 70 percent. The rest of the cases were for retailers in central and southern Taiwan. Eight of the 16 cases have already issued formal fines of NT$1,000 each, while the other eight cases are still being processed.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)