2002 Student-Faculty Fellows: Hamline University
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan
Mentor: Richard C. Kagan, History
Students: Briana Adams ’02; April Marie Nigh ’02; Jeffrey Michael Paffrath ’03; Robert August Peterson ’02; Heather Rae Posthumus ’02
Abstracts of Reflections and/or Research
Richard C. Kagan
The most significant part of the trip for me was intellectual. I wanted to allow my students to study the effects of tobacco trade on Taiwan without my input. As a result, I stayed away from trying to channel the arguments. To my surprise, I began to see tobacco in a new way. It was not just a health issue, not just a matter of global trade and the World Trade Organization policies, and not just a matter of revenues for the state. Rather it became involved under the rubric of human rights. In the last few days of my time in Taiwan, I discussed this idea with Taiwanese friends. They not only agreed but also encouraged me to write up my views. They invited me back in December to share my ideas at an international conference on tobacco.
The most significant part of the trip for my group was watching it change from a naive, timorous, curious collection of students to a self-assured, inquisitive, and in-charge individual consciousness. The students were able to make appointments, interview, collect materials, and make intellectual judgments on their own. They had high self-esteem and were proud that they had conquered their sense of intellectual and cultural weaknesses. To watch them become easy going and competent as they collected their information, traveled on their own, made friends, and reported on their discoveries became the coda for the five weeks we were there.
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan: The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Taiwan Tobacco Industry
The experience in Taiwan has thoroughly impacted my life, both personally and professionally. I have recently decided to postpone my intended Peace Corps venture for one year, as I will leave in February for Beijing to teach English. This decision was made largely as a result of the curiosity that developed during the trip abroad. Additionally, the summer trip has since prompted a return to Taiwan in late November for a month-long extension of the research, while holding an internship at the National Health Research Institute (NHRI).
Research abstract: The deregulation of the Taiwan tobacco industry represents the growing phenomenon of globalization and market expansion taking place throughout the world. Taiwan’s once state-run tobacco operation has been forced to open market shares to foreign competitors, largely as a result of pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO). International trade development has become a fundamental concern around the world. Topics such as tariffs, market share, and foreign competition are issues that transcend language and culture, and are being immersed into our societies and minds as key aspects to the future of economic growth.
Taiwan’s 2002 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has begun the deregulation of its long-time nationalized tobacco industry. Privatization has called for massive decrease in support, funding, and overall activity in its agricultural economy, state-run until July 2002. Such a loss has caused substantial reduction in tobacco market share, which may very well determine the end of the Taiwanese tobacco company, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor (TTL). The industry’s deregulation, WTO involvement, and foreign competitors are the focus of this investigation to gain a comprehensive perspective of the ensuing transformation in the country’s economy.
April Marie Nigh
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan: The Anti-Tobacco Lobby
In addition to the warm and friendly nature of Taiwanese people, the country as a whole mesmerized me. The ninety miles separating the island from Mainland China is a barrier representing that vast difference between two realms; it is a threshold to a fresh democracy, efficient universal health care, and a higher quality of life. I will no doubt return to this beautiful country in the future, with the hope of continuing my studies of public health affairs and Taiwanese culture. Due to this trip, my interest in tobacco and other public health hazards has swelled. In fact, one of my co-researchers and I are returning to Taiwan in November in order to assist the National Health Research Center with a conference on tobacco control in Taiwan.
Research abstract: Three important events of the past ten years-the Tobacco Hazards Control Act, Taiwan’s admittance into the WTO, and the launch of the new Health Tax has greatly affected Taiwan’s public health policies towards cigarette consumption. Cigarette advertisements are restricted and those under eighteen years of age can no longer buy cigarettes, but with foreign cigarettes now flowing into Taiwan thanks to deregulation of the cigarette industry, many people will keep smoking or pick up the habit. The Health Tax from the sale of cigarettes will now fund health and anti-smoking programs. However, a clash of methodology exists among the anti-smoking organizations on how to change tobacco habits, with some focusing on youth prevention and others focusing on cessation.
Jeffrey Michael Paffrath
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan: Farming Tobacco
As my first journey out of the United States, my stay in Taiwan totally surpassed my expectations and relieved my initial apprehensions at traveling abroad. Although Westernized commercially and industrially, Taiwan preserves some of the best aspects of Chinese traditional culture alongside local aboriginal cultures, in art, song, and dance. Our excursions in the mountains and our trip to Taroko Gorge also revealed the wonder of its natural topography. For our research interview, the help afforded us through personal connections, where conventional methods of communications such as phone or e-mail might fall in the face of bureaucracy, continually surprised and delighted me. Traveling under a professor with such experience in Taiwan taught me the importance of developing such relationships, what the Chinese term guanxi. To travel with a group offered an extraordinary opportunity to prepare myself psychologically for my semester abroad in Beijing. I look forward to comparing views and experiences on the mainland with those of Taiwan. While I am not certain what lies beyond college, I feel confident that this month abroad has been the first of many travels in East Asia.
Research abstract: In several ways the interviews and information gathered during our research contradicted my initial assumption that Taiwan’s entry into the WTO and deregulation of the tobacco monopoly would have a negative impact on the local tobacco farmers. While the farmer’s guaranteed contracts with the former monopoly will soon be eliminated, over the past ten years tobacco production has already declined dramatically, without any major protest from farmers, the vast majority of whom work in agriculture only part-time. Since the quality of Taiwan’s home grown tobacco compares poorly to that produced in other countries such as the United States, over half of Taiwan’s tobacco is already imported. Thus WTO entry and deregulation will only hasten a process already underway. Since agriculture provides only a small percentage of the domestic product, land currently used for tobacco may be sold for other industries or national parks. This raises concerns about social and environmental impact, but at the same time it also offers new choices for farmers who own their own land. This research suggested that hypothetical models of the damaging effects of globalization on local industries may not fit the unique case of the economically developed country of Taiwan.
Robert August Peterson
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan: Manufacturing Tobacco
Through the immense help of the local government, old friends of our professors, and the unexpected help of new friends, I was able to travel through many parts of the island. Though there were differences in the overall personalities of the various groups of people we encountered, hospitality was a universal trait. Almost without exception, the people who we interviewed, whether they were government officials or indigenous farmers, were always happy to answer our questions and give us further references. Our academic endeavors evenly balanced with many journeys whose sole purpose was to familiarize us with the island.
Research abstract: The indigenous people have been smoking tobacco since the Japanese occupation. They grow their own tobacco, a practice that is banned by law. Though the tobacco they grow is virtually free, the practice is dying as cigarette prices drop and the youth neglect their cultural traditions. Old women are now almost the exclusive groups who still smoke. Each tribe practices a different curing method, with indications that the styles vary from household to household. Many members of the Buneng tribe believe that once the older generation is dead, the practice of smoking homegrown tobacco will become extinct.
Heather Rae Posthumus
Tobacco Regimes in Taiwan: Governmental Policies and Regulations
From the moment we stepped off the plane, the experience in Taiwan was serendipitous in that it was nothing like I had anticipated the country to be. Taipei was much more cosmopolitan and globalized than I had thought. The island has a wonderful culture, exceptionally friendly inhabitants, gorgeous flora and fauna, spectacular architecture, and an intriguing history similar to no other. I would like to return to Taiwan teach English, travel around the island, learn more about the culture, study human rights law and cross-strait relations, and continue learning Mandarin Chinese.
Research abstract: The paper analyzes the increase of criminal activity, health concerns for both consumers and law enforcement, lack of prevention by government departments, lack of legal action, and loss of taxation in the NT$billions caused by both genuine and counterfeit smuggled cigarettes. There are few laws involving punishment and control for tobacco smuggling. Enforcers of the law often ignore the laws that exist. Taiwan has an immense dilemma with smuggled cigarettes, and many government officials and institutions seem to remain apathetic to the problem.
Venues for Sharing
We will be presenting an Anthropological bag lunch session at our University discussing the findings. We also plan to speak at a local high school in the fall. In addition, we are currently configuring an exhibition on tobacco in Taiwan for display at our University. We are constructing it to be easily mobile for exhibitions at other institutions.