Taiwan - seek publc opinion before implementing anti-tobacco measures..

Taiwan Coat-of-Arms..

January 20, 2010 - On November 30, 2009 we reported that Taiwan plans to ban people from smoking while walking and riding motorbikes this year. Smokers who don’t carry an ashtray with them to discard their cigarette butts and ash could face fines of up to NT$6,000 (188.85 USD), reports said Tuesday, January 12th. (Taiwan - soon smokers will need to carry ashtrays..)

Ruling Kuomintang Secretary-General King Pu-tsung denied allegations Monday, January 18th that he was interfering with the government’s anti-smoking policies. King said he was objecting to the absence of supplementary measures to a potential ban on smoking outside. Such a ban should be accompanied by the setting up of extra smokers’ rooms near crowded locations, he said. The KMT (Kuomintang of China abbreviated KMT; translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party, is a political party of Taiwan )official said he originally made a phone call to his counterpart in the Cabinet, Lin Join-sane. At the time, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen was standing next to Lin, so King said he decided to tell him about his concerns. The KMT official said he also informed Premier Wu Den-yih of his concerns. The EPA later issued a statement saying it would carefully evaluate the contents of its proposals and consider outside suggestions about its anti-smoking policies. King said he was only passing on public opinion. He had heard many people complaining about bans on smoking outside, though most members of the public voiced approval of fines for smoking while driving a vehicle or when inside public places, he said. (Taiwan KMT official denies interfering with EPA anti-smoking policies, Taiwan News, Staff Writer, 1/18/2010).

The Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has endorsed Kuomintang Secretary General King Pu-tsung's timely reflecting grassroots voice concerning a proposal to ban smokers from lighting it up while walking or riding a motorcycle. Ma became the second top government official to back up King concerning his timely conveying the public opinion on the issue despite charges from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that criticized him for interceding the authority of the Executive Yuan (Cabinet). Premier Wu Den-yih, the leader of the Cabinet, already came to the defense of King on Saturday, January 16th characterizing King's action as a way of conveying an opinion held by some people. Several legislators of the KMT said yesterday that President Ma, who concurrently serves as chairman of the ruling party, also agreed with King's relaying people's views.

King said he and Lin Jui-teh, the candidate, were non-smokers. But they both thought the proposed hefty fines on those walking or riding motorcycles or bicycles should be reconsidered after wider discussions. Critics said that the EPA yanked the plan only after King made his call. But officials at the agency said such a proposal is only at its budding stage and the EPA will only adopt specific measures after a consensus is built.

Wu said he personally received countless e-mail messages and phone calls expressing all kinds of suggestions and opinions each day as all citizens in this nation are entitled to express or relay opinions. Concerning the proposed fines, Wu said he believes that the EPA will make a most suitable decision after weighing pros and cons.

The ultimate decision on the issue still lies in the hands of the Cabinet and the Legislative Yuan if amendments to certain regulations are required, he added.

Reference: Ma endorses King's act of relaying people's opinions, The China Post, 1/18/2010.

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