Article Text

PDF
Paradoxical increase in cigarette smuggling after the market opening in Taiwan
  1. C P Wen1,
  2. R A Peterson1,
  3. T Y D Cheng2,
  4. S P Tsai3,
  5. M P Eriksen4,
  6. T Chen5
  1. 1Division of Health Policy Research, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  4. 4Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5Tulane University School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Chi Pang Wen
 MD, DrPH, National Health Research Institutes, 35 Keyan Road, Zhunan Town, Miaoli County, Taiwan 350; cwengood{at}nhri.org.tw

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the magnitude of cigarette smuggling after the market opened in Taiwan.

Methods: Review of tobacco industry documents for references to smuggling activities related to Taiwan and government statistics on seizure of smuggled cigarettes.

Results: The market opening in 1987 led to an increase in smuggling. Contraband cigarettes became as available as legal ones, with only a small fraction (8%) being seized. Being specifically excluded from the market-opening, Japan entered the Taiwan market by setting up a Swiss plant as a legal cover for smuggling 10–20 times its legal quota of exports to Taiwan. Smuggling in Taiwan contributed to increased consumption of foreign brands, particularly by the young. Taiwan, not a member of the World Health Organization, was excluded from the East Asian 16-member “Project Crocodile”, a regional anti-smuggling collaborative effort to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Conclusions: Taiwan showed a sharp increase in smuggling after market liberalisation. Being excluded from the international community, Taiwan faces an uphill battle to fight smuggling alone. If Taiwan remained as its weakest link, global efforts to reduce tobacco use will be undermined, particularly for countries in the East Asian region.

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Footnotes

  • Competing interest: none to declare

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.