• May 23, 2024

Bigger is better in Taiwan

 Bigger is better in Taiwan

Warning labels on cigarette packs sold in Taiwan are too small and not frightening enough to be effective, according to a story in The Taipei Times quoting academics speaking at a forum held in Taipei on Monday.

The difference between the number of people who smoked in Taiwan, three million, and the number who smoked in Hong Kong, 640,000, might be due to the difference in the sizes of the warning labels, they said at the Tobacco Hazard and Prevention Forum for Cross-strait Locations, Hong Kong and Macau.

This seems unlikely given that the population of Taiwan is about 23 million and that of Hong Kong is about seven million.

There is a significant smoking-prevalence difference: about 15 percent in Taiwan and 10 percent in Hong Kong, but attributing this to health warnings seems to be a giant step.

Warning labels in Taiwan took up 35 percent of tobacco packaging and were ‘a light reminder’, the academics said.

On the other hand, warning labels and graphics take up 85 percent of tobacco packaging in Hong Kong. They include pictures of long-time smokers and the effects that smoking has on the body, and warning messages such as, ‘Smoking causes strokes and ‘Smoking kills’.

University of Hong Kong professor Lam Tai-hing was quoted as saying that ‘pictures’ were thought to scare many young people off smoking.

In Taiwan, the Health Promotion Administration said it was aware of the statistics, and that amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act had been sent to the Executive Yuan.

The amendments would increase the size of warning labels on cigarette packaging to 85 percent.

And they would hike fines for the illegal distribution of e-cigarettes in a bid to deter sales and distribution of these devices.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it would convene a panel to discuss the kinds of pictures that would be a deterrent to smoking.