Bureau Health Promotion (BHP) is considering the proposal to increase the tobacco health and welfare surcharge for improving public health and protecting the poor from the harmful effects of tobacco.
The Tobacco Hazards Control Act in Taiwan stipulates that health and welfare surcharge shall be imposed on tobacco products. The competent authority should be evaluated every other year. The current surcharge is NTD1,000 (USD34) per thousand cigarettes or NTD1 (USD0.034) per cigarette or NTD20 (USD0.68) per twenty cigarettes.
“The amount of surcharge increase is still open for discussion, but the increase is a must to protect public health,” said Director-General Shu-Ti Chiou (邱淑媞), who met several legislators to gather information and asked for their support.
“Smoking prevalence is highest among men 18 to 39 years of age with educational level below middle school. Smokers of low socio-economic status lost health because of smoking and lost money because of illness. The children of low socio-economic status became the victims of smoking by the second-hand smoke exposure. The vicious cycle of smoking and poverty will pass down from generation to generation, further aggravating the existing social and health inequality.”
She gave an example of how a pack of cigarettes in New Zealand costs NTD310 (USD10.6), including NTD190 (USD6.5) as tobacco tax, but the same pack of cigarettes in Taiwan would include only NTD38 (USD1.3) of tax and surcharge. Buying New Zealand cigarettes in Taiwan is cheaper than in New Zealand.