Draft act to keep smoking lounges in hotels, bars

2017/05/16 22:51:35 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
(CNA file photo)

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) A draft amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, which is scheduled to be sent to the Executive Yuan by the end of May, is likely to allow the continued existence of smoking lounges in hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, health officials said on Tuesday.

A draft revision to the act released in January by the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) originally planned to ban smoking at all indoor locations, saying that would be in accordance with findings that indoor partitions do not effectively prevent second-hand smoke from spreading.

The HPA then said it would collect opinions from society at large for a period of 60 days, before finalizing the amendment and sending it to the Cabinet for review.

Yu Li-hui (游麗惠), deputy head of the HPA, said on Tuesday that the administration now plans to keep smoking lounges in some locations.

Lo Su-ying (羅素英), a HPA official, told reporters that the draft will not add a health surcharge for duty-free tobacco sold at airports as originally planned and will continue to allow smoking lounges in hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Lo said 43 hotels and restaurants currently have smoking lounges and say they serve smokers while enabling non-smokers to avoid smoking, which is why the HPA decided to keep the related clauses.

Lo said the purpose of the amendment was to reduce the number of smokers under the age of 18 and restrict electronic cigarettes in the same way as tobacco. The act forbids minors - children and teenagers under the age of 18 - and pregnant women from smoking.

The amendment, as announced in January, will treat e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco and make it illegal to provide them to minors, with violators subject to a fine of up to NT$10,000 (US$313).

The John Tung Foundation, an NGO that focuses on public health issues and tobacco control, said 47 countries and areas forbid smoking in indoor public facilities and accused the administration of abdicating its responsibility to safeguard people's health.

Beginning on Dec. 26, smoking on sidewalks near 267 schools in Taipei became illegal and was also prohibited at all 932 bus stops in Taipei from Jan. 1.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Kuo Chung-han)
Enditem/ AW/

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