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Flavored tobacco products gain popularity among women, students in Taiwan

Taiwan mulls ban on certain flavorings in tobacco products after new law took effect in March

(Unsplash, Andrew Leu photo)


(Unsplash, Andrew Leu photo)  

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Health authorities in Taiwan have expressed deepening concerns over the rising consumption of flavored tobacco products, particularly among young students and women.

Based on a 2022 survey, 18.2% of those aged 18 and older who smoke reported using flavored tobacco products, marking a rise from the 15.6% recorded in 2020. Notably, female respondents exhibited a higher usage rate, with 43.8% showing an interest in these products, compared to 14.3% reported among males, per the Health Promotion Administration (HPA).

Moreover, data from 2021 revealed that a concerning 40% of adolescent smokers in Taiwan were using fragrant tobacco products. Specifically, junior high and senior high school female students displayed usage rates of 57.2% and 60.7%, respectively, surpassing their male counterparts.

The appeal of flavored cigarettes lies in their ability to mask the strong odor and taste of tobacco smoke, making them attractive to first-time users and young individuals who might erroneously believe these products are less harmful.

The HPA emphasized that flavored tobacco products pose an equally significant health risk, as the nicotine they contain can impede brain development and lead to various adverse effects. Furthermore, young smokers are at an increased risk of developing addictions to other substances.

To address this growing concern, an amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) was enacted in March, prohibiting the addition of flavorings to tobacco products. There are ongoing discussions about potentially banning specific fragrances, such as floral, fruity, chocolate, and mint, and public input on this matter is being solicited.