Cigarette tax to increase by NT$20 per pack on June 12

Smokers will soon be paying more for their cigarettes in Taiwan. That's after the legislature increased cigarette taxes to help pay for a nationwide long-term health care plan that was rolled out in January.

The new tax, set to go into effect on June 12, will increase the price per pack by NT$20 (about US$0.66). The finance ministry says this will bring in NT$23.3 billion (more than US$770 million) in revenues that can help build the nation's long-term care infrastructure. Changes to the inheritance tax will bring in another NT$6.3 billion (nearly US$210 million) to help fund the plan.

Finance Minister Sheu Yu-jer said Monday that although the tax increase will begin on June 12, it could be late June by the time that the more expensive cigarettes hit the shelves. He addressed concerns about the possibility of stockpiling, saying that cigarettes only stay fresh for half a year, and companies may be put off by the costs associated with storing cigarettes.

Sheu urged consumers to look for the number 51.8 printed on packs of cigarettes. That's NT$31.8 for tobacco tax, plus the additional NT$20 to fund long-term care. He said that some imported cigarettes, and local brands that don't have time to change packaging, may use stickers instead.

Meanwhile, Sheu said that the finance ministry has increased checks to prevent cigarette smuggling. He said that since last October, they have seized some 6.2 million packs of smuggled cigarettes in Taiwan. The finance minister encouraged people to be on the lookout for this sort of illegal activity, saying that tips leading to a bust could result in a reward of up to NT$4.8 million (nearly US$160,000).

Source: Radio Taiwan International