Taiwan Considers Ban On Vaping And Tobacco Products
Proposed Amendments Target Vaping, Heated Tobacco Products
The chaos caused by the coronavirus crisis has uplifted our normal way of life, decimated the global economy, and pushed healthcare systems to their brink. While some have their attention and efforts focused on the situation at hand, there are some officials who choose to advance their own agendas instead.
The Health Promotion Administration of Taiwan announced drafts of anti-vaping amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act. The amendment would ban the sale and manufacture of both vaping and novel tobacco products, such as newer heat-not-burn devices.
The agency stated it drafted the amendments to lay the legal foundation to regulate vapor and heated tobacco products, which are currently not included in the act. An additional amendment would raise both the legal age to smoke and minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 20 as well.
Critics of the measure are worried about the public health and economic impacts that such a ban would have, particularly during these trying times. As many seek to quit smoking over concerns of coronavirus complications, restricting access to reduced-harm alternatives may prevent successful cessation. Additionally, removing revenue from small-businesses and, in turn, the tax base, as we face the cusp of a global depression, may have serious economic ramifications going forward.
The Health Promotion Administration, an agency within the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Taiwan, announced it had drafted amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act of 2009 targeting both vapor and novel tobacco products such as heat-not-burn devices. The agency stated the reason for the drafts was to establish a legal basis and framework for the regulation of vapor and novel tobacco products, which are currently not covered in the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.
The anti-vaping amendments would fundamentally alter the Taiwanese vaping industry, possibly to an irreparable degree. The proposals would ban both the local manufacture and sale of vaping and novel tobacco devices, as well as raise the minimum age for purchase and usage of tobacco products from 18 to 20. Additional provisions would ban smoking in venues previously excluded, such as tobacco stores and semi-open restaurants, as well as ban the import, manufacture, and sale of semi-cigarettes.
The agency states the measures come over concerns of rising smoking rates, particularly among the country’s youth. A recent survey released by the agency found that vaping and smoking rates had actually increased over the last year for the first time since the act had been implemented.
Those opposed to the ban believe it may have serious economic and public health impacts for the country, which are only amplified amid the pandemic. While they believe that youth access to vapor products is a legitimate concern, restricting adult access to vapor products without doing the same for tobacco will only lead to increased smoking rates and associated complications.
While lawmakers continue to propose and pass legislation against vaping with overblown claims of teenage vaping, research indicates most teens don’t actually vape. The study, conducted by the NYU School of Global Public Health and published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and even the few that vape are not habitual users.
Public health scholars and harm reductions experts repeatedly caution against restrictive regulations and prohibitive policies targeting vaping. In an article, published in the journal Science, a group of these respected experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations targeting vaping. Not only do they point out that there is no evidence that vaping is harmful, but they note that prohibitive policies will simply turn smokers back toward tobacco or black market alternatives.
In addition to noting the lack of risk associated with vaping, they also note the remarkable efficacy of vaping as a form of smoking cessation as well. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that not only is vaping more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.
In addition to a lack of risk and the benefits it may provide, current research indicates vaping is a reduced harm alternative to tobacco too. Independent studies from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively. Public Health England has routinely defended and stood behind this figure in their embrace of vaping to help the country quit smoking.
Taipei’s proposed amendments cast a cloud of doubt over the Taiwanese vaping industry and community as a whole. The industry is in fear for the future, while the vaping community is in fear for their lives. Many of those struggling with nicotine addiction may end up turning back toward tobacco amid a lack of options and stress created by our current circumstances.
Additionally, the country may be at serious risk of exacerbating economic hardships brought on by the pandemic. The ban will lead to reduced sales, which will lead to increased unemployment while decreasing tax revenues. The country should focus on fighting the global smoking epidemic amid our worldwide pandemic, not attacking the tool that can help to end it.
What are your thoughts regarding Taiwan’s proposed anti-vaping amendments? Do you believe the ban may have economic and public health ramifications? As always, we would love to know what you think in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest and greatest vaping news and reviews!
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