Surcharge could cause NT$100 per cigarette pack: TTL
By Joy Lee, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The price of a package of cigarettes could be increased to at least NT$100 if the tobacco surcharge is raised to NT$40, the Chairman of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation Hsu An-hsuan (徐安旋) said yesterday.
March 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) Director-General Shu-Ti Chiou (邱淑媞) announced on Tuesday that the bureau will come up with a proposal for the Executive Yuan to increase the surcharge for a pack of cigarettes from NT$20 to NT$40.
“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.”
Hsu, however, said that once the surcharge is increased, it will severely affect the price of goods because each pack of cigarettes will be raised by NT$25 to NT$30.
“There are more and more illegal cigarettes smuggled into Taiwan's market,” Hsu said, “and increasing the price of cigarettes will also increase the cost for the government to enforce banning illegal cigarettes.”
Taiwan Tobacco &. Liquor Corporation Federation Union (TLCF) also said that it is not necessary to increase the tobacco surcharge.
According to the TLCF, the total amount of tobacco surcharges so far is NT$55 billion while statistics from the John Tung Foundation (JTF, 董氏基金會) show that the total National Health Insurance (NHI) cost for smoking-related diseases is about NT$30 billion.
The TLCF said that 70 percent of the tobacco surcharge has already been put toward the NHI. The government should not keep raising the surcharge to make up for the insufficiency of the NHI fees.
Lin Ching-li (林清麗), chief of the TLCF's tobacco control division, said that it is the tobacco tax instead of 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 (TIRC, 中華民國菸業協會) issued a statement yesterday, saying that the government should refer to different opinions from various fields when it comes to adjusting policies on tobacco.
According to past experience regarding increasing the tobacco surcharge, the TIRC said, the sudden increase of the surcharge would provide more opportunities for illegal cigarette sellers.