Cabinet mulls smoking levy
The Cabinet yesterday preliminarily decided to levy a health welfare surcharge of NT$40 on each pack of cigarettes, twice as high as the current rate, in an amendment to the Tobacco and Liquor Tax Act (菸酒稅法) in a meeting chaired by Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政). The proposed amendment to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes means a packet would cost NT$25 more if the amendment is passed by the legislature. According to a survey conducted by the Department of Health, more than 50 percent of respondents said that the proposal was acceptable, Chang said. Chang said the adjustment was aimed at reducing the number of smokers in the nation.
Filipina faces fraud charges
A woman from the Philippines faces prosecution in Taiwan after allegedly using fake credit cards to buy luxury goods on an EVA Air flight, authorities said yesterday. The woman, identified only as Janice, was arrested on March 15 when transiting through Kaohsiung International Airport en route to Bangkok, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said, adding that she had confessed to the crime. The woman is said to be a member of a group of fraudsters who buy watches, expensive pens and beauty products on international flights using fake credit cards and resell them in China. Female members of the group dress like rich women and travel in business class to make their act more credible, the bureau said. EVA Air contacted the police after 52 transactions worth NT$1.2 million (US$40,000) were rejected by banks. The bureau is sending out an alert to other countries through Interpol to seek help in locating others involved in the scheme.
Students win competition
Two Taiwanese students have won a prize at an international design competition with a device that serves as both a drink holder and a bicycle lock, National Cheng Kung University said yesterday. The device, called “DrinLock,” was among the 22 prize winners at the International Bicycle Design Competition 2013, said the Tainan-based university, where Kao Hua-cheng (高華成) and Chen Chien-wei (陳建維) are studying for master’s degrees. Besides its functions as a drink holder and a lock, the design also incorporates a light reflector to improve road safety. The competition was organized by the Taiwan-based Cycling and Health Tech Industry R&D Center, which held this year’s event jointly with iF Design Talent in Germany, the arm of iF International Forum Design that promotes young designers. A total of 391 designs from 45 countries were accepted for the competition this year, the organizers said.
Injured tourists back home
Several Taiwanese who were injured last week in a tour bus accident in China returned home yesterday, while the remains of one of the three people killed were also returned. The bus was carrying 13 Taiwanese tourists and a tour manager when it overturned while swerving to avoid an accident on a freeway in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, on Monday, the Tourism Bureau said. Three women were killed and 11 people injured. The tour was operated by Lion Travel. The bodies of two of the women were transported back to Taiwan on Thursday, and the ashes of the third one were brought back by her relatives yesterday. The injured Taiwanese tourists who returned yesterday were the last tourists from the ill-fated tour to return home.