The “End Game” set by the World Health Organization (WHO) is the ultimate goal of global tobacco control. At present, countries with active smoke prevention and control have set up standards, such as Britain 2040, Canada 2035, and Set in New Zealand in 2025, the above countries will achieve this goal by introducing new tobacco.
However, Chen Shizhong, the Minister of Health and Welfare in Taiwan, said that e-cigarettes endanger the health of the people and prohibit listing in Taiwan. Therefore, Wang Yuyang, a candidate from the Tianfu District of Beitou, sought health rights for the whole people. On July 2, he went to the Taipei District Inspection Office to “sue” Chen, the Minister of Health and Welfare.
This is also the first case in Taiwan, where government officials have been sued for the new tobacco policy.
The controversy over tobacco harm reduction products continues to be extended in Taiwan. For example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on April 30 that the sale of heat-not-burn (HnB) products in the US through iQOS can be effective in protecting public health. And Taiwan has more than 5,000 people on the public policy linkage platform to “legalize heat-not-burn products, include it into tax system”. The Department of Health and Welfare must formally respond before July 18.
However, the representative of the proposal refused to hold a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Welfare because of the problems of the competent authority. “In Taiwan, the competent authority for tobacco products should be the Treasury of the Ministry of Finance. Why is the organizer of the conference becomes the Department of Health and Welfare?” “If all the tobacco products in the future are regulated by the Department of Health and Welfare, we agree to a legal meeting.”
Mr. Huang, the organizer of the Department of Health and Welfare, responded: “The organizer of the conference is decided by the Executive Yuan, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare is administered according to law.”
At present, there are no clear control measures for heat-not-burn products in Taiwan, but such products travelers carried have been confiscated by the customs. In this regard, the former Huang Li legislator said in questioning Finance Minister Su Jianrong, “legal basis of Taiwan’s administrative organs is still under investigation, so why they seized these products?” Su also admitted to the legislator that there is no legal basis at present. The seizure is only temporary and will be incorporated into the smoke prevention and control law as soon as possible they discuss with the Department of Health and Welfare.
Although Su Jianrong subsequently stated that the seizure was based on the Customs Anti-smuggling Regulations and other regulations, the products were temporarily detained. There can be no explicit provisions prohibiting the heat-not-burn products, whether it is the Customs Law or the Customs Smuggling Regulations.
Su Jianrong explained that the Ministry of Finance is currently communicating with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the latter has planned to include all new types of tobacco in the smoke prevention and control law. However, Huang Liwei questioned that seizure of product when the law is still unclear, and it was suspected of helping the interests of the traditional cigarette business.
As for the part of the electronic cigarette, the draft proposed by the Executive Yuan hopes to control the electronic cigarette with the smoke prevention and control regulations. The draft amendment to the smoke prevention and control law was sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation on December 21, 2017, and passed the first reading on December 29. It has not yet passed the second reading. According to a person familiar with the matter, “As the 2020 election is approaching, the DPP has decided to discuss the draft amendment to the smoke prevention law after the election next year.”
Such a slow legislative speed has caused dissatisfaction of the Department of Health and Welfare and John Tung Foundation. It has frequently called on the Legislative Yuan to put the draft amendment to the Law on Smoke Prevention and Control into priority review and pass the Law on Prevention of Smoke as soon as possible to protect the health of young people and the public. New Taipei City and Taichung City Councillors have also proposed the “Electronic Cigarette Autonomy Regulations” to local governments. They hope that during the period when the draft amendments are not passed, local autonomous regulations can be used to protect adolescent health.
Wang Yuyang, a candidate for the Beitou Tianmu District Committee, said: “Multinational government information has clearly confirmed that new tobacco products contain much lower toxic substances than traditional cigarettes. In June this year, the New Zealand Ministry of Health even established an electronic cigarette cessation network (vaping Facts) to let the public know the difference between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.”
The website aims to provide accurate and sufficient e-cigarette information, explaining the pros and cons of e-cigarettes and how to use e-cigarette products to achieve the goal of harm reduction.
Wang said that the facts and evidence of many of the above countries have been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Welfare for reference. However, it is very regrettable that Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shizhong did not “consider the new evidence carefully” as he said, but chose to ban new tobacco. product. “In the face of the ridiculous behavior of the Department of Health and Welfare, in order to protect the health rights of smokers and non-smokers, Wang decided to pledge to the legislators’ elections and sue the Minister of Health and Welfare for abuse of power.
At present, the supervision situation in Taiwan is very confusing. Although cigarettes and cigars are managed by the Ministry of Finance and there are laws and regulations related to the smoke prevention and control laws, because the electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, the Food and Drug Administration is divided into drug management. However, even if it is classified as drug management, there is still no channel to apply for a permit or a drug certificate, so e-cigarette is still illegal.