Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director-General Wu Chao-chun yesterday said his agency was seeking to amend the Tobacco Hazard Prevention and Control Act to ban the import and sale of heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
During the two-month preview period for the draft amendments, which ended at the end of last month, the HPA received more than 4,000 letters from members of the public expressing conflicting opinions on the proposed bans.
Letters from tobacco companies mostly criticized proposals to enlarge the warnings printed on cigarette packages to 85 percent of the front surface area and to raise the legal age for smoking from 18 to 20, Wu said.
The larger the warnings are, the less effective the tobacco companies’ advertisements would be, he said.
The HPA hopes to submit the draft amendments to the Ministry of Health and Welfare at the end of this month, which would forward them to the Executive Yuan next month for review, he said.
Asked why the proposals described heated tobacco products as “novel cigarette products,” Wu said that tobacco companies often change their products’ names.
“One day it is heated tobacco, another day it is called something else. It is impossible to amend the act because of new terms,” Wu said, adding that the HPA’s proposals are aimed at safeguarding public health.
Regarding illicit sales of vaping devices as stickers, jelly or toothpaste, Wu said that the issue is targeted by the draft amendments, but that until they are passed by lawmakers, the HPA can only ask the National Communications Commission to remove such listings from online shopping Web sites.
The HPA is also to submit a draft concerning the removal of mislabeled tobacco products from online shopping Web sites, he added.
Currently, the agency can fine sellers of mislabeled vaping devices up to NT$50,000, based on Article 14 of the act, HPA Tobacco Control Division Director Chen Miao-hsin said.
National Cheng Kung University physician Chen Chuan-yu said that he estimated a 5 percent increase in e-cigarette use.
Some junior-high and senior-high school students think that e-cigarettes are cool, but are oblivious to the grave harm they can cause, he said.
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