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Tobacco Free, Yes Taiwan
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According to data in a 2002 survey, there are currently 4.9 million smokers in Taiwan. Research also shows that more than 18,800 people die from smoking related diseases every year. And the payout from National Health Insurance (NHI) for smoking related diseases reaches an estimate of 20 billion NT dollars, costing a social and economic loss as high as 50 billion NT dollars. Therefore, tobacco hazards not only put our peoples health in risk, their causing an economic downfall also severely impact Taiwans competitiveness.
Before 1980, polite smoking was a social etiquette in the Taiwan society, and people had no idea about the hazards of smoking. Starting from 1984, the government and private associations began to advocate anti-smoking, hoping to implant in peoples mind the concepts of smoking is harmful to health and refusing second hand smoke. In 1997, legislation of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act was passed to form the legal basis for promoting tobacco prevention and control. In 2002, Welfare donation of tobacco products for health efforts were open to the public to enable works on tobacco control to continue with ample funding.
Promoting tobacco control is an arduous task, regardless whether it is opposing the intense marketing of the global tobacco industry, persuading and assisting the people to quit, or even changing the deeply-rooted culture of smoking. However, after the World Health Organization (WHO) passed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003, tobacco prevention and control has become a global issue. Therefore, creating a quality and vibrant living environment, and maintaining our peoples health are tasks that demand the governments immediate attention. They are also in line with the global concepts of public hygiene and human rights to health care.
At present, the government, academics and private associations are in cooperation to promote various major undertakings step by step. These include communicating anti-smoking education to the people, provision of quit services, promotion of smoke-free restaurants, homes, workplaces and campuses; and the environment building, law enforcement and amendment, monitoring and inspection, and basic setup for these premises. Furthermore, in order to fulfill our responsibility as a member of the international community, we have also proactively presented the efforts and results of tobacco control in Taiwan. For example, approval of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was promoted within the country, World NO Tobacco Day and Quit & Win campaigns were conducted. There is also our participation in international academic exchange in the field of tobacco hazards, and our assistance to Southeast Asian countries in dealing with tobacco hazards. By offering our experience of tobacco control, we seek to engage in substantial diplomatic relations and thus gaining international recognition and support.
All these efforts are expended to meet the publics needs for a smoke-free environment and offer the people protection from the hazards of second hand smoke. In the future, the Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) will continue to promote works on tobacco control with the vision of Tobacco Free, Yes Taiwan. And with joint efforts from the people, we could enable our children, families, colleagues, and friends to study, work, play and grow in clean and healthy environments, and make no-smoking the new living mainstream culture.
Bureau of Health Promotion
Department of Health
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