TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A petition to legalize heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products has reached the minimum threshold of 5,000 signatures on the National Development Council’s online policy platform to require the government to issue a public statement on the proposal.
The petition, which is titled "legalize heat-not-burn tobacco products, but include them in the health and welfare surcharge of tobacco products" (合法開放加熱式不燃燒菸品，納入健康菸捐), was first posted on April 27, and on Saturday (May 18), it surpassed the minimum 5,000 signatures required for the government to issue a public response. According to law, the government must issue a public statement in response within two months, which in this case would be July 18.
The proposal points out that Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and other countries have legally opened up HNBs and incorporated them into the management of other tobacco products. The petition claims that, as of 2018 HNBs, were being legally sold in 43 markets around the world.
The writers of the petition claim that the illegal smuggling of HNBs is rampant in Taiwan, including many Taiwanese Facebook pages, which send agents to purchase the products from overseas. The petition calls on the products to be subject to tobacco health and welfare surcharges to improve regulation of the products in Taiwan.
Taiwan Tobacco Harm Reduction Association chairperson Danny Wang (王郁揚) told Liberty Times that the tobacco surcharges are a major source of revenue for the government's long-term care services (長照基金). He called on Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and the Ministry of Finance to open up this new form of revenue for the benefits program.
Anti-smoking groups, such as the John Tung Foundation, have filed a petition with the Cabinet demanding that it take into consideration the health of Taiwanese people and not legalize HNBs.