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Anti-smoking bill put on ice after meeting canceled

Absence of opposition lawmakers from talks means further readings must await next session

Anti-smoking bill put on ice after   meeting canceled

The controversial Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act amendment that puts a comprehensive ban on smoking in all enclosed public areas will not be passed in the current legislative session.

The last cross-party negotiation meeting on the amendment scheduled to be held yesterday afternoon was canceled because of the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union's absence meaning the bill will not be sent for a second and third reading today.

As the current legislative session ends today, it will not be possible for the Legislative Yuan to pass the bill until the next session which begins on February 21. People First Party legislator Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) said that even though the amendment would not be passed in this session, the ruling and opposition parties' caucuses in the Legislature have reached a consensus to promote the bill in next legislative session.

Meanwhile the Taiwan Anti-tobacco Alliance formed by 103 civil groups, including Taiwan's leading anti-smoking lobbying group, John Tung Foundation, expressed it's regret for at cancelation of the negotiation meeting.

The alliance said in the statement that, unfortunately, some legislators had been confused by the tobacco industry's paradoxical statements on the issue and had blocked the bill by not attending the meeting.

The alliance stressed that it would continue to push for a smoking ban in indoor facilities and would keep promoting the bill.

About 40 representatives of the alliance protested outside the Legislative Yuan prior to the proposed start-time of the canceled meeting to call on legislators to send the bill to a second and third reading, holding a banner reading "Ask the tobacco industry to let 2.3 million Taiwanese (smokers) go."

Sun Yue (孫越), a famous entertainer and also a member of the John Tung Foundation said that tobacco industry should consider the interests of 2.3 million Taiwanese, including their children.

One two-year-old boy, Rudolf Blazek, also participated in the protest with his parents with a banner that read "Don't poison me."

Representatives of the tobacco industry also held a press conference at the same time, calling on the alliance to debate the bill with them but the alliance refused.

Nancy Yin, secretary general of the Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China criticized the definition of "enclosed public areas" in the amendment as unclear and said smokers would be uncertain about the rules regarding where they were allowed to smoke.

Restaurateur Richard Tsai, said that it was unreasonable to force restaurant owners to make their establishments to no-smoking areas.

He stressed that restaurant and pub owners should have the right to decide whether customers can smoke on the premises. The Non-Partisan Solidarity Union held a public hearing yesterday morning, which was attended by representatives of tobacco industry at which the party concluded that, as there are still many contentious surrounding the amendment, it will require further discussion and revision.

Updated : 2021-08-03 18:17 GMT+08:00