Tax hike didn’t cut smoking

Cigarette Smoking

Senators will interrogate the tobacco industry stakeholders about the government plan to reform excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol in spite of the presupposition made by Cesar Purisima, Finance Secretary that the tax rise was not a reason for quitting smoking.

During a previous hearing led by the Senate committee Purisima said that they suppose that essential tax increases and following retail prices increase will not lead to a significant decrease in tobacco use.

According to the recent study, it was demonstrated that cigarette use even increased under the conditions of hikes in tobacco taxes and prices.

Cesar Purisima said that cigarette prices from year 2004 to 2011 were augmented by as much as 61%, but tobacco use did not decreased.

He made reference to tobacco tax hikes, which over the years, had led to corresponding increases in the retail prices by as much as 99%.

Republic Act 9334 requires tax increases on tobacco and alcohol products starting January 1, 2005 and every other year until January 1, 2011.

But Senator Ralph Recto, ways and means committee chairman, pointed out that the main thing in the current tax reform discussions is coming up with the efficient tax rate.

He declared that it was the opinion of majority in the Senate to reach a tax structure that would profit all players equally.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said if the Senate wants to increase the tax, it won’t reduce the number of smokers and they will continue to smoke.

Rodelito Atienza, who is the Labor Union president, asked if the proposed aim will not be reached, why is the DOF willing to cause so much injury to many of stakeholders in both alcohol and tobacco industries who are ready to lose their jobs?”

Blake Dy, Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corp. vice president, said that government was being “heavy-handed” without the need. There are other ways of make money without giving such radical change, he said.

He added that the government should preserve an open mind on this matter. There are various ways to obtain government’s goals without destroying the industry, he said.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona told that the country is now number one country in tobacco use in the Southeast Asia with every Filipino smoking an estimated 1,073 sticks yearly.

He stressed that cigarette consumption is a risk factor in 6 of the world’s 8 leading causes of preventable diseases.

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