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Groups unveil proposed tobacco amendments (英文中國郵報)

發佈日期: 2011-04-12

Groups unveil proposed tobacco amendments (英文中國郵報)

TAIPEI -- Civic groups on Sunday made public their proposed amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act to curb the rising rate of smoking among teenagers. More than 150 civic groups, including the anti-smoking John Tung Foundation, Consumers’ Foundation, and Formosa Cancer Foundation, said the act should be amended in light of the fact that the rate of teen smoking in Taiwan had climbed to 22 percent last year.

Statistics for 2010 show that 8 percent of junior high school students and 15 percent of senior high school students smoke.

The groups called for smoking to be banned in all indoor public spaces and work places, for more warning messages to be placed on tobacco packaging, and for a ban to be introduced on the display of tobacco products in retail stores.

These are measures that have proved effective in decreasing the purchase of tobacco, the groups said.

The prominent displays of cigarettes at the cash counters in convenience stores, for example, is alluring to both teenagers and adults, said Tseng Yu-hui, chairman of the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation.

Furthermore, certain brands of cigarettes are associated with a cool image and even fashion, said Lin Ching-li, director of John Tung Foundation’s tobacco control and public affairs divisions.

Lin said the amendment if approved, would affect tobacco product manufactures more than smokers, who often protest that the act violates their right to smoke.

The current regulations do not go as far as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which completely prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces and public spaces, noted Yau Sea-wain, chief executive of the John Tung Foundation.

Store owners or people in charge of public spaces are usually not fined for allowing smoking in banned areas, Yau said.

Under the groups’ proposal, beaches and parks, which children and teens often visit, would be included in the list of places where smoking would be confined to designated locations, Lin said.

In addition, anti-smoking warning messages, which currently occupy 35 percent of tobacco packaging, should be expanded in line with international regulations, said Yeh Shin-cheng, head of the Consumers’ Foundation.

The groups also called for a stricter ban on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco makers.

In addition, the tobacco tax, which accounts for an average of 50 percent of cigarette prices in Taiwan, should be raised to 67 to 80 percent as suggested by the WHO, said Huang Song-lih, Secretary General of Taiwan International Medical Alliance (TIMA).

Noting that a pack of cigarette costs about NT$65 (US$2.25) on average in Taiwan, the groups urged the authorities to raise tobacco prices by at least NT$20 to deter teens from buying them.

According to Yau, it was found that price increases are more likely to affect teenagers.

The proposal will be submitted to a Legislative Yuan committee for review next week, the John Tung Foundation said.