Taiwan’s need for cigarette health surcharge increase questioned

| March 7, 2013

The price of a pack of cigarettes in Taiwan could be increased to at least NT$100 if the tobacco surcharge is raised to NT$40, as has been suggested, according to a story by Joy Lee for The China Post quoting the chairman of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp, Hsu An-hsuan.

The director general of the Bureau of Health Promotion, Shu-Ti Chiou, said on Tuesday that the bureau would come up with a proposal to increase the surcharge from NT$20 to NT$40 a pack.

“The tobacco prices in Taiwan are too low compared to the prices in nearby countries,” Shu said; “so the bureau hopes to cut adult smoking rates in half through increasing tobacco prices.”

In condemning the proposal, Hsu said that Taiwan’s trade in illicit cigarettes was already increasing and that raising prices would increase the government’s cost of fighting this trade.

The Taiwan Tobacco &. Liquor Corporation Federation Union (TLCF), meanwhile, said that it was not necessary to increase the tobacco surcharge. It said that the tobacco surcharge currently earned the government NT$55 billion while statistics from the John Tung Foundation showed that the total National Health Insurance cost for smoking-related diseases was about NT$30 billion.

Lin Ching-li, chief of the TLCF’s tobacco control division, made the point that it was tobacco tax rather than the tobacco surcharge that should be increased. “A tobacco surcharge can only be put toward health and medical plans,” Lin said, “but a tobacco tax can be utilized by all citizens.”

The Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China issued a statement saying that the government should confer widely in respect of tobacco matters. According to past experience, the institute said, a sudden increase in the surcharge would provide more opportunities for the illicit trade in cigarettes.

Category: Breaking News

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