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Achievements of Crackdown on Illegal Tobacco Products in the Year 2023

The National Treasury Administration, Ministry of Finance (NTA) announced the achievements of the crackdown on illegal tobacco products for the year 2023. Through the active efforts of both central and local enforcement agencies, a total of 17,479,589 illegal tobacco products were seized, with an estimated market value of approximately NT$0.86 billion. Compared to the year 2022, the seizure amount increased by 1,835,667 packages, representing a growth of 11.73%. The results demonstrated effective enforcement efforts.

The NTA indicated that in recent years, the illicit patterns of illegal tobacco products in our country have undergone changes. In addition to traditional illegal activities at both commercial and non-commercial border crossings, there is an increasing trend in the detection of illegal production of tobacco products by domestic underground tobacco factories. Analyzing the amount of seizures, the illicit production cases involving underground tobacco factories reached approximately over 10.89 million packages in the previous fiscal year, accounting for 62.33% of the total illegal tobacco products seized throughout the year. This represents a significant increase compared to the underground tobacco factory seizure quantity of over 3.15 million packages in the year 2022, showing an increase of over 7.74 million packages, with a remarkable growth rate of 245.71%.

To prevent underground tobacco factories and enhance the effectiveness of the crackdown on illegal tobacco, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) formulated “The 2024 Project on the Investigation and Seizure of Illegal Tobacco and Alcohol Products.” In addition to urging relevant agencies to periodically strengthen inspections, the plan includes initiating five nationwide synchronized crackdown projects at opportune times to curb illegal activities. Furthermore, there is an ongoing review of the “Implementation Plan for Enhancing the Efficacy of Investigation and Seizure of Smuggled Tobacco Products.” Considering that illicit operators often employ deceptive methods such as falsely declaring goods under names like “tobacco refuse” or similar disguises, while in reality, they import unmanufactured tobacco to illicitly produce illegal tobacco domestically, Customs Administration was urged to utilize risk management mechanisms and X-ray inspection equipment. This aimed to intensify the crackdown on cases involving false declaration of goods or concealing tobacco slices and tobacco production equipment in imported shipments. Local governments were also requested to prioritize inspections of abandoned or remote factories within their jurisdictions that were susceptible to becoming clandestine tobacco production sites. Additionally, to trace the actual use and destination of imported tobacco refuse, efforts were made to screen relevant customs declaration data for use by enforcement agencies in tracking and disrupting the supply chain. This holistic approach aimed to cut off the sources of raw materials for underground tobacco factories and reinforce enforcement measures.

The NTA reiterated that engaging in the manufacturing, importing, transporting, or selling of illegal tobacco will result in penalties and confiscation of illegal tobacco products in accordance with “The Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act”. Those involved in manufacturing illegal tobacco may face fines of up to NT$10 million, while individuals involved in transportation or sales could be fined up to NT$6 million. Importers of illegal tobacco may be subject to imprisonment for up to 3 years and fines ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$10 million. The NTA warns unlawful operators not to underestimate the determination of public authorities and the government to enforce laws and regulations strictly. It also urges citizens not to purchase tobacco of unknown origin or those with unreasonably low prices to protect their health. Furthermore, citizens are encouraged to report any suspicious activities through the toll-free hotline 0800-867890. Whistleblowers may receive rewards of up to NT$6 million per case. Through collective efforts, we can combat illegal activities and uphold the interests of the general public.

 

Issued:National Treasury Administration Release date:2024-02-22 Last updated:2024-02-29 Click times:232