Legislator calls for tobacco tax cut, citing public outcry

According to Ministry of Finance data, the law amendment allowed the tobacco tax to be raised from NT$590 per 1,000 cigarettes (per kilogram) to NT$1,590, which added an extra NT$20 to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) said on March 3 that the government should reduce the tax on tobacco because the public is deeply dissatisfied with the current rate.

Hsu said he has spoken to Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on the issue, in light of the public backlash that erupted after the tax on cigarettes was raised in June 2017 by NT$20 (US$0.65) per pack following the Legislature’s passage of an amendment to the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax.

According to Ministry of Finance data, the law amendment allowed the tobacco tax to be raised from NT$590 per 1,000 cigarettes (per kilogram) to NT$1,590, which added an extra NT$20 to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes.

Hsu said that while he does not encourage smoking, he recognizes that it is one of life’s pleasures for some people. The tobacco tax goes toward the nation’s long-term care of senior citizens, but smokers should not be the ones to fund that, he said.

In response, the Cabinet said it will seek the opinions of various sectors of the society on the issue. Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said Premier Su has received thoughts from DPP lawmakers on the tobacco tax issue but has not yet responded.

The implementation of the tobacco tax is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp., Kolas said. Also commenting on the issue, Kuomintang lawmaker Hsu Chih-jung (徐志榮) said the tobacco tax was increased as a deterrent to smoking, and cutting it now would be counterproductive.

By Matt Yu, Wang Cheng-chung, Ku Chuan and William Yen