Taipei--Nearly 46 percent of retailers and small vendors in Taiwan do not comply with the ban on selling cigarettes to minors, with betel nut vendors the biggest violators, according to the results of a survey released by the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) on Tuesday.
Although the overall violation rate is lower than the 59.3 percent found in a similar survey conducted in 2012, there is still much room for improvement, the administration said.
The latest survey was conducted by the Consumers' Foundation for the HPA between April and September 2016, in which workers dressed in school uniforms were sent to 660 retail shops and vendors in Taiwan's 22 cities and counties to buy cigarettes.
Some 45.9 percent of the vendors sold cigarettes to the buyers without first checking their identification cards to make sure they were at least 18 years old, the HPA said.
By types of retailers, the violation rate was 60 percent among betel nut vendors, who often also sell cigarettes and a limited variety of cold drinks, 57.1 percent among traditional grocery stores, 30.5 percent among supermarkets and hypermarkets, and 24.5 percent among convenience stores, according to the HPA.
The HPA estimated that there are 100,000 teenagers in Taiwan who smoke, citing the results of another survey it conducted in 2016.
That survey on teenage smoking found that 3.7 percent of junior high school students and 9.3 percent of senior high school students were smokers.
The survey showed that over 50 percent of junior high students and 67.4 percent of senior high students seeking to buy cigarettes on their own were not turned away by the sellers.
In 2016, local health authorities inspected cigarette-selling venues more than 330,000 times and discovered 502 cases in which cigarettes were sold to people under 18, the HPA said.
Those vendors were fined more than NT$4.47 million for their violations, the HPA said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel