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Petition on heated tobacco products to get official response

2019/05/20 21:07:28

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) A petition to legalize heated tobacco products, which produce aerosols containing nicotine, have met the minimum threshold of signatures needed to get a public response from government authorities.

The petition, advocating the legalization of "heat-not-burn" tobacco products and their inclusion among tobacco products subject to health surcharges, was proposed on the National Development Council's online policy platform on April 27.

It met the minimum threshold of 5,000 signatures by May 18, and authorities must respond to the proposal by July 18.

Many people smuggle heated tobacco products into Taiwan, but there are no laws covering the product, read the petition, initiated by IQOS, a Facebook group comprised of local heated tobacco product users.

According to the petition, 43 nations have legalized HTPs, including Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, and more than 5 million people worldwide use such products.

The petition may not get far, however, because the Ministry of Health and Welfare is currently mulling an amendment that would prohibit the importation and sale of such products to protect the health of teenagers, Health Promotion Administration official Lo Su-ying (羅素英) said.

The ministry will issue a response to the petition based on related research and international practices, Lo said.

The World Health Organization says HTPs are still addictive because of the presence of nicotine, and there is no evidence to demonstrate that HTPs are less harmful than conventional tobacco products, despite industry claims to the contrary.

According to public policy participation platform regulations, when a petition receives more than 5,000 signatures, the government agency in charge is required to issue a public response on the platform within two months.

Following the example of Japan and Italy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on May 1 it has authorized the marketing of new tobacco products manufactured by Philip Morris Products S.A. for the IQOS "Tobacco Heating System" -- an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper to generate the aerosol.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Lin Mo-zo and Chung Yu-chen)