The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) yesterday announced draft amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (26) that would ban the local sale and manufacture of vaping devices and novel tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
The agency said that it drafted the amendments to provide a legal basis for the regulation of products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products also known as non-combusted cigarettes which are not included in the act.
One amendment would raise the legal age for smoking and the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 20, it said.
Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times
Due to an increasing variety of tobacco and vaping products now available, the agency said that it created a new category called semi-cigarettes, with the amendments to make all novel products in the category illegal to import, manufacture or sell locally.
To increase protection from secondhand smoke in public indoor spaces, the amendments would ban smoking in previously excluded venues, such as half-open restaurants and cigar stores, it said.
Smoking inside a bar or nightclub would also be banned, unless the venue has a smoking room equipped with an independent air-conditioning system, it added.
The agency said that it hopes the Legislative Yuan would soon pass the proposed amendments.
A survey released on Thursday by the agency found that smoking among young people and vaping rates increased last year.
The smoking of cigarettes and e-cigarettes by junior-high and high-school students last year increased for the first time since the act took effect in 2009, HPA Tobacco Control Division Director Chen Miao-hsin (s) said.
The smoking of cigarettes among junior-high and high-school students last year increased from 2.8 to 3 percent and from 8 to 8.4 percent respectively, Chen said, adding that most smokers were male.
Four out of 10 respondents said that they smoked flavored cigarettes, with girls showing a higher preference than boys.
The use of e-cigarettes among junior-high and high-school students last year increased from 1.9 to 2.4 percent and from 3.4 to 5.6 percent respectively, Chen said, adding that most were also male.
The combined use of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes increases with age, with 3.4 percent of high school students smoking both, compared with 1.1 percent among junior-high school students, she said.
More than half of the respondents who smoked cigarettes did so out of curiosity, followed by those who smoked due to peer pressure, who have parents who smoke and those who wanted to relieve stress, Chen said.
Most of the respondents who vaped did so because of peer pressure, followed by those who felt e-cigarettes taste better and those who believed that e-cigarettes pose less of a health risk, she said.
Physician Chen Mu-jung (s() said that teenagers are less cautious when it comes to addictive substances, and that flavors added to cigarettes could overpower the pungent taste of tobacco, making them more curious and even leading some to believe that flavored cigarettes are somehow healthier.
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