The Taiwan government’s efforts to crack down on tobacco smuggling have borne fruit, resulting in the seizure of more than six million packs of contraband cigarettes during the past six months, according to a story in The Taipei Times quoting the Minister of Finance, Sheu Yu-jer.
Since October 20, the Ministry of Finance, in co-operation with other government agencies, had adopted tougher measures to combat cigarette and tobacco smuggling, Sheu said.
These measures had been put in place ahead of the implementation of legislation raising the health surcharge on cigarettes from NT$10 (US$0.33) per pack to NT$20 per pack as of June 12, a move that Sheu conceded might spur smuggling.
About 6.22 million packs of smuggled cigarettes had been confiscated during the six-month period, he said.
And during the first half of this month, about one million packs had been seized.
The government has cracked down on suspicious practices, such as local fishermen having their boats registered as foreign vessels, a National Treasury Administration official said.
In addition, it had drafted an amendment that would expand the range of smuggling inspections from within 12 nautical miles to 24 nautical miles (22.2km to 44.4km) of the coast of Taiwan, the official said.
The proposal is still to be submitted to the cabinet for approval.
The ministry urged the public to report counterfeit tobacco and alcohol products, adding that informants would be given a cash reward of up to NT$4.8 million.