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The Nation’s First Smoking Cessation Assistance Areas in Taipei are Opened

The Department of Health, Taipei City Government has installed the nation’s first eight smoking cessation assistance areas at Taipei City Hospital (including Zhongxiang, Renai, Heping, Yangming, Zongxiao, and Songde Branches) and at smoking-permitted surrounding area of Taipei Main Station to channel smokers towards specific spots to smoke. At these locations, smokers can receive information related to smoking cessation. Also, setting up these areas can reduce secondhand smoke pollution and minimize littering caused by cigarette butt flicking. This facility will be inaugurated on March 25. Deputy Mayor Chiu Wen-hsiang pointed out that after the amended Tobacco Prevention and Control Act was launched on January 11, 2009, many smokers have turned to sidewalks, arcades, and other outdoor areas for smoking because smoking is now banned in most of the indoor spaces. Consequently, the government has received frequent complaints from citizens concerning outdoor pollution from secondhand smoke. Because there is no regulation at the present moment banning smoking outdoors, the city government decided to emulate successful experiences from countries such as France and Japan by installing eight smoking cessation assistance areas to satisfy the public’s healthy demand for a smoking-free environment. Depending on its effectiveness, this measure will be promoted to private sectors to further protect our citizens’ rights. Lin Chi-hung, Commissioner of the Department of Health, Taipei City Government, stated that the smoking cessation assistance areas are built in a lightweight, transparent, and beautifying manner. Each of the areas has a motion sensing ventilation system, a lighting system, and an electronic headcounter. There are also posters providing smokers with smoking cessation related information and motivating them to quit smoking. Furthermore, in July 2010, Taiwan News Communication and Law Society was consigned to conduct a survey to gain insight into the public’s view points and relative support on the installation of these smoking cessation assistance areas (a total of 1,100 valid samples). Results from this survey suggest that about 81% of the sample approve the installation of smoking cessation areas, and about 80% of the sample consider that the installation of smoking cessation areas can protect the rights of the smokers as well as of the non-smokers and reduce outdoor secondhand smoking pollution. According to the "Adult Smoking Behavior Survey of 2010” conducted by the Bureau of Health Promotion of the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, the smoking rate of adults in Taipei City is about 13.37%, which is the lowest in the nation (19.77%). Commissioner Lin suggested that Taipei City has provided numerous smoking cessation classes, smoking cessation stations at community pharmacies, smoking cessation counseling provided by medical staffs, smoking cessation hotlines, and smoke cessation clinics because of an increasingly large population trying to quit smoking. Smokers are welcomed to use any of these smoke cessation channels and are encouraged to quit smoking with courage and determination because it is the best way to express the care for their families and friends and to improve their health. Also, the Department of Health, Taipei City Government has continuously coordinated relevant governmental units and private community organizations to disseminate the importance of tobacco prevention and control. The purpose is to elevate citizens’ anti-smoking awareness so smokers will come to respect non-smokers’ right to refuse secondhand smoking indoors as well as outdoors. By doing so, we will have a healthy, smoke-free environment and realize the vision of building a smoke-free Taipei City.