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(May 13, 2013) On May 9, 2013, that the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) of the Republic of China (on Taiwan) approved amendments to the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act and to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act that, if they become law, would, respectively, increase the taxes and the health surcharge on tobacco products. (ROC Cabinet OKs Higher Tobacco Tax, Surcharge, TAIWAN TODAY (May 10, 2013).)

The proposed revision of the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act would increase the cost of a pack of cigarettes by NT$5, raising the levy from the current NT$11.80 (about US$0.40) a pack to NT$16.80 (about US$0.57) per pack, and every 1,000 cigarettes or kilogram of other products, including cigars and cut tobacco, would be taxed NT$840 (about US$29), up from NT$590, a more than 42% increase. (Id.; Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act (Apr. 19, 2000, as last amended Sept. 1, 2010), art. 7, LAWS & REGULATIONS DATABASE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA [toggle for text in Chinese].) A pack of cigarettes currently costs about NT$85 (about US$2.86) in Taiwan. (Taiwan Mulling Higher Tobacco Tax, Surcharge, FOCUS TAIWAN (Mar. 19, 2013).)

Under the proposed amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, a health and welfare surcharge of NT$2,000 (about US$68) per 1,000 cigarettes or kilogram of tobacco or NT$40 a pack, double the current surcharge, would be imposed. (ROC Cabinet OKs Higher Tobacco Tax, Surcharge, supra; Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (Mar. 19, 1997, as last amended Jan. 23, 2009), LAWS & REGULATIONS DATABASE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA [toggle for text in Chinese].) Surcharge revenues are used, among other purposes, to help defray the cost of National Health Insurance fees for the disadvantaged; to subsidize cancer screenings; to provide treatment for developmentally disabled children and patients with rare diseases; to finance rural hospitals; and to cover the annual costs of vaccinations for over a million children and oral health services for more than 1.5 million elementary school students. (ROC Cabinet OKs Higher Tobacco Tax, Surcharge, supra.)

According to Premier Jiang Yi-huah, "[a]lthough both laws are being revised simultaneously, the resulting prices for tobacco products are still lower than the World Bank's recommended standard … . The [Taiwan Department of Health] estimates that these adjustments could lead to a 20.8 percent reduction in the number of smokers, equivalent to 600,000 people." (Id.; see in general Tobacco, The World Bank website (last updated May 31, 2012).)

It was reported in June 2012 that the number of smokers in Taiwan had decreased from 3.5 million in 2008, almost 22% of the adult population, to 3.1 million in 2011, or about 19% of the population. However, the percentage of male smokers was 33.5%, 1.6 times higher than in the United States and the United Kingdom, with more than 40% of men aged 26 to 45 being smokers. Moreover, some 73.5% of those aged 18 to 39 who were not high school graduates were found to be smokers. (Shih Hsiu-chuan, Government Plans to Cut Smoking Rate, TAIPEI TIMES (June 1, 2012).)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Tobacco and smoking More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Taiwan More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 05/13/2013