Taiwan’s executive branch has proposed a broad ban on vaping, including sales, manufacture, import, and even the use of e-cigarettes. The cabinet (or Executive Yuan) will send its amendment to the country’s Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act to the legislature for debate.
Descriptions of the law in news reports are confusing, suggesting that some products may be eligible for approval after being submitted to the government for assessment. But it would be nearly impossible to ban personal use only of products not approved for sale. (The provision allowing some legal products may only apply to heated tobacco products (HTPs) and not e-liquid-based vapes.)
“The bill mentions that unapproved new tobacco products, such as heated tobacco products or those already in the market, will have to be submitted to the authorities in the central government for health risk assessments, and only when they are sanctioned, can they be manufactured or imported,” the Taiwan News reported yesterday.
The proposed law provides steep fines for commercial violators, ranging from 10-50 million New Taiwan Dollars (NT), according to Focus Taiwan. That is equivalent to about $365,000 to $1.8 million U.S. Individuals breaking the law would face fines of NT2,000-10,000 ($72-362).
The amendment was proposed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and includes hiking the legal smoking age from 18 to 20. The bill also expands the list of places smoking is not allowed.
Existing laws regarding vaping in Taiwan are confusing, and some people argue that vapes are already banned. The Customs Administration issued a press release in 2019 stating that importing e-cigarettes—even for personal use—is not allowed. And nicotine-containing products are illegal to sell in Taiwan without permission from the country’s pharma regulator.
Several cities and counties in Taiwan—including the capital Taipei—have already banned sales of e-cigarettes and HTPs, according to ECig Intelligence. Outright vape bans, like the proposed Taiwanese law, are common in Asia.
Taiwan, which is officially called the Republic of China (ROC), has a population of about 24 million. About 19 percent of adults are believed to smoke. However, it is difficult to find reliable and current smoking rate estimates because most organizations that gather such information don’t recognize Taiwan as a country. The World Health Organization (a United Nations agency) simply lumps Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China. (The PRC claims Taiwan is a breakaway province and not a sovereign nation, and Taiwan is not recognized by the UN or most other countries.)
This article was edited to add context about existing laws in Taiwan.