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September 26, 2017

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Government mulls new anti-smoking measure

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Health Ministry on Thursday proposed a ban on smoking in all indoor public spaces, citing the need to safeguard citizens from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The ban is part of a proposed seven-point revision to the current Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.

If approved, the bill would take the current ban on indoor smoking one step further by ridding it of all exceptions.

Under current law, certain indoor public spaces, including hotels, markets, restaurants, smoking rooms, cigar lounges and bars operating after 9 p.m., are exempt from Taiwan's smoking ban.

Luo Su-ying (羅素英) of the Health Ministry's Health Promotion Administration — where the bill originated — said the revisions would eliminate a rule that allows for indoor smoking areas, by adding smoking rooms, bars, clubs and cigar lounges to the list of public spaces where smoking is not allowed.

According to Luo, the reasoning behind tightening restrictions is that "smoking areas cannot effectively prevent the spread of secondhand smoke."

Luo said the Health Promotion Administration proposed these new restrictions that were in line with the World Health Organization and other global groups' standards.

The Revisions in Detail

On Jan. 4, Health Promotion Administration gave a preview of its revisions to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act. The points of the revision included an expansion of smoke-free places and a ban on hookah pipes and e-cigarettes.

These revisions would serve to safeguard both the public and employees at certain venues where smoking has traditionally been prevalent from the dangers of secondhand smoke, the health administration stated.

Luo said that e-cigarettes posed an emerging global health hazard that could potentially serve as a gateway drug for cigarettes to minors.

The administration defined e-cigarettes as "electronic devices that contained nicotine, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, or any other substance that is harmful to the human body."

According to Health Promotion Administration Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉), "the harm smoking has done to our nationals should not be underestimated."

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