The Taiwan Smokers’ Rights Association yesterday accused the New Taipei City government of breaking the law and violating students’ rights with its request that junior- and senior-high schools conduct tobacco tests on suspected smokers, according to a story in the Taipei Times.
“It is not about ‘you have nothing to worry about if you don’t smoke’, the problem is that the [city’s] Education Bureau and the school have no right to ask students to take a tobacco test,” the association’s president Chen Chi-an told reporters and bureau officials during a protest at New Taipei City Hall.
“It does not matter if the student tested positive or negative – such a test is simply unlawful,” he said.
The bureau announced early this week that it had allocated 125 tobacco detectors to junior- and senior-high schools across the city and asked school administrators and teachers to conduct tobacco tests on students who were known to be smokers or suspected to be smokers. Those found to be smokers were to be put through quit-smoking programs.
Chen said the law mandated that such tests could be conducted only if there were a warrant from the court or a prosecutor.
He urged students to refuse to take the test and added that his group would provide legal counsel or assistance to students if needed.
Meanwhile, Peng Yun-hua, the bureau’s campus security office director, defended the policy, saying it was entirely legal and well-intentioned.
Peng told reporters at a press conference that a warrant from a court or prosecutor was mandatory only for conducting intrusive tests, whereas a tobacco test required only that the student blew into a device.
Separately, the Humanistic Education Foundation also voiced its opposition to the tobacco tests, as well as to a request from the Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa to add drug tests to routine physical exams in schools.
The foundation said in a statement that the ministry should not act as if it were the National Police Agency, and that it should not treat students like suspects.