TaipeiTaiwan will fine pregnant women for smoking in a bid to ensure healthier babies and curb the number of female smokers which is on the rise, health officials have said.

“Smoking is a leading cause for miscarriage, still births and premature births and female smokers should be aware of the health risks,” said Yu Po-tsun, an official at the Bureau of Health Promotion.

According to a draft revision of the Tobacco Hazards Act, women will face a maximum fine of 10 000 Taiwan dollars (R1 950) for smoking during pregnancy.

But the fines will be waived if pregnant smokers attend courses to help them kick the habit

“More women are smoking now and we hope the law will help promote anti-smoking awareness,” Yu said, adding that the number of female smokers in Taiwan was estimated at 500 000 in 2004.

Under the Children’s Welfare Law, retailers face fines of up to 50 000 Taiwan dollars for selling cigarettes to pregnant women and laws extending the penalties to pregnant women will soon be submitted to parliament for approval.