Chapter 15: Tobacco control in Taiwan
Scientific evidence demonstrates that smoke and the inhalation of second-hand smoke causes serious illnesses, from lung cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular disease to early death. Taiwan is facing a public health crisis due to smoking and spends an estimated US$1.5 billion annually via National Health Insurance (NHI) expenditures to treat smoking-related illnesses. In 2009, 20 per cent of Taiwanese adults used tobacco regularly (35.4 per cent of males; 4.2 per cent of females) as did 14.8 per cent of teenagers (19.6 per cent of males; 9.1 per cent of females). Additionally, in one survey, 20.8 per cent of respondents reported daily exposure to second-hand smoke in their households, 14 per cent in the workplace or office, and 7.8 per cent in indoor public places. Besides its impact on public health, tobacco consumption also causes serious economic losses, such as increasing health care costs and job productivity losses. Studies also show that smoking greatly impacts the mortality and death rates in Taiwan. From 1982 to 1986, Taiwan’s smokers had a 140 per cent increase in risk of death from all cancer sites combined, and 730 per cent increase from lung cancer. To respond to the tobacco epidemic, Taiwan passed the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act 1997 (Taiwan) (1997 THPA). However, the Act failed to incorporate effective tobacco control initiatives, such as tobacco advertising bans, graphic health warnings, cigarette tax increases, bans on smoking in public places, and tobacco cessation subsidisations. Therefore, the THPA was regarded as inept in preventing or retarding the ‘tobacco epidemic’.
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