Vape Shop Closures in Taiwan
As a result of the recently enacted vape ban, local retailers of the safer nicotine alternatives have started closing down, leaving consumers with nowhere to turn but the blackmarket.
The amended Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) was approved earlier this year and went into effect on March 22nd. It banned the sale, manufacture, and supply of vaping products, raised the legal tobacco age limit from 18 to 20, and increased the proportion of tobacco warnings from 35% to 50% of cigarette packs.
In response to the ban, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, Michael Landl, said that the ban is a public health catastrophe in the making. In fact less than a month later, 25 out of 44 vape shops in Kaohsiung City have already closed down, while the rest have had to switch to selling other products.
Besides inspections of physical stores, the health department has also been keeping a close eye on online sales. Sadly, this means that thousands of people who had switched to vaping products will be pushed back to smoking or to the black market, where they will have access to unregulated and possibly unsafe products. A pattern which has been observed in countries enacting harsh regulations.
One such example is Australia, where in response to the restrictions on vape sales set in place last year, vaping products are highly inaccessible and being obtained more often than not via illicit channels. News.co.au had recently reported that many tobacconists across Australia are still selling disposable vapes under the counter while delivery services are reportedly easy to access via social media.
Quitting smoking and physical fitness
Meanwhile, a 2022 cross-sectional study of 27,908 male adults aged between 23 and 64 years, non-surprisingly reported that non-smokers enjoyed better fitness levels. Titled, “Associations between cigarette smoking status and health-related physical fitness performance in male Taiwanese adults,” the study collected data via a standardized structured questionnaire, anthropometric variables, and health-related physical fitness measurements.
As expected, the compiled responses indicated that never smokers reported the best fitness levels. “Current smoker was associated with an increased the risk of abdominal obesity, reduced the perceived health status and health-related physical fitness performance.” They added that quitting was positively linked with perceived good health status, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness in male Taiwanese adults. Sadly local authorities fail to see vaping products as a means to decrease smoking rates, and therefore as an added benefit to public health.