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Free anti-smoking treatments start in Taipei City today

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei City will provide free four-week tobacco control treatment for 1,000 smokers in eight public hospitals starting today.

Allen Chiu, commissioner of Taipei City's Department of Health, said it can save each smoker NT$1,000 to NT$3,000, and they can get professional help to quit smoking.

This year is Taipei's Anti-smoking year, said Chiu. Smoking is not only harmful to the smoker, but also those around them. It has a negative effect on the society. So, the department is launching this scheme, in order to help more smokers.

Woung Lin-chung, deputy superintendent of Taipei City Hospital, said it is advised to take tobacco control medication for eight to 12 consecutive weeks, and the first four weeks is critical. He said some tobacco control medication have a success rate of over 50 percent. If the smokers are willing to get professional help, the doctors are confident that they can help them successfully quit smoking.

Taiwanese actor Li Luo is the first smoker to participate in the new scheme. Li has been a smoker for 27 years and his highest record was two pack a day. He said he wants to quit because he wants to give his daughter a healthy childhood. He had tried to quit smoking on his own for many times but he failed. He is determined to quit smoking this time by seeking professional help and announcing it in public.

According to John Tung Foundation, 39 tobacco control specialists from eight public hospitals provide 320 consulting sections for smokers per month. Each month, however, there are only 50 to 60 smokers seek help from the clinics.

The health department's statistics show that the adult smoking rate in Taipei in 2009 has dropped from 18.93 percent to 15.3 percent, accounting a 70,000 decrease in the smoking population. With the anti-smoking campaign this year, expected the number to go further down.

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