Smoking Ban in Taitung Having Little Effect

taitung smoking ban
Taitung county has instituted a smoking ban along most of the coast. Photo by Matthew Lubin

The southeastern city of Taitung instituted a smoking ban in major scenic spots in March, and the Public Health Bureau has noted that Taiwanese and tourists are ignoring the signs. The local government promoted the ban at sites like Duoliang Railway Station and Water Running Upward (水往上流) in Dulan Forest during all of April and began enforcing it to start May.

On May 1, the first day of the Labor Day holiday, the bureau logged more than 20 instances of people smoking in areas where it is banned. All instances were logged between 10 am and 1 pm. Among the violators were Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Europeans, and Americans, all of whom failed to notice the no smoking signs nearby.

The Health Bureau noted that most of the people violating the smoking ban immediately extinguished their cigarettes when informed.

There were, however, a few fines issued and confrontations with tourists. One Taiwanese tour bus driver reportedly took issue with the Health Bureau issuing fines for smoking, saying, “You aren’t the police. Why should I show my ID card? Find the police and come back.”The health inspectors called for the police to force the bus driver to show his ID.

Authorities also encountered a mainland Chinese tourists who, after handing over his passport for inspection, tried to ask for forgiveness when he saw how much he would be fined. He was persuaded by his tour guide to not push the issue.

The Public Health Bureau only issued two fines during the day. Fines can range from NT$2,000 (US$64.70) to NT$10,000 (US$323.50) depending on circumstances.

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