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70% of foreign violators pay smoking fines: Taipei official

70% of foreign violators pay smoking fines: Taipei official

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) More than 70 percent of foreign tourists who receive fine tickets for smoking in no-smoking areas have paid up, even though they are not legally binding, officials of the Taipei City Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday. Department statistics show that during the first nine months of this year, the department issued 13,012 tickets for cigarette butt littering. A majority of those fined were Taiwanese, with foreign tourists accounting for only 112, many of whom were mainland Chinese. Many question why foreign tourists feel compelled to pay the fines since they can still leave the country without any consequences. Immigration officials said there are no rules for putting such violations on record. But environment officials said only 30 out of the 112 foreigners or 26.8 percent failed to pay a first-time violation penalty of NT$1,200 (US$37), leading to a shortfall of just NT$36,000 out of the NT$97,800 in total fines so far this year. Liu Ming-lung, director of the department, said after violators are given a ticket, tour guides will take them to a nearby post office or convenience store to pay the fine. Popular tourist spots and busy transportation hubs like Taipei Train Station are the priority locations for enforcing the anti-smoking regulations. Though most of the foreigners who were fined paid up, some mainland Chinese who received a ticket would try to run away -- and would be chased by law enforcement officials. Some of those who were nabbed would tell Taiwan's anti-smoking officials, "Is your government that short of money?" To those who complained that when they arrived they were not informed of a legal ban on smoking in designated areas, the officials would reply that the relevant law has been in force for more than 30 years, and the "education and warning period" had long expired. In fact, since May 1 this year, the anti-smoking law has been strengthened so that those caught violating the law for the second time in the same year will be fined NT$3,600 and third-time offenders will be levied with a fine of NT$5,000 plus four hours of compulsory education on environmental protection. The penalty for cigarette butt littering in priority locations has also gone up from NT$2,000 to NT$10,000. (By Ku Chuan and S.C. Chang)


Updated : 2021-09-20 04:25 GMT+08:00