Anti-smoking group seeks higher tax on tobacco to help farmers

By Leilani Junio

April 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

MANILA -- An official of an anti-smoking advocacy group on Tuesday called on lawmakers to impose higher taxes on tobacco to further help farmers.

“We are hoping that lawmakers, especially from the tobacco-producing regions, will consider increasing the tax rates for tobacco as this would mean more assistance for their constituents, particularly tobacco farmers,” said New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas said in a statement.

Since Jan. 1, 2017, the tax on all cigarettes packed by machine was set at PHP30 per pack. An additional PHP2.50 per pack of cigarettes was included in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Meanwhile, senators Manny Pacquiao and JV Ejercito had both filed Senate Bill Nos. 1599 and 1605, respectively, seeking to further increase the excise tax on tobacco products by PHP60 to PHP90 per pack.

Rojas said that tobacco farmers are benefiting a lot from the Sin Tax Law.

“Parts of the incremental revenue is allocated to farmers in tobacco producing regions. And the PHP210 million assistance is clear proof that they too stand to gain from the Sin Tax Law,” Rojas said.

Through Republic Act No. 10351 or the Sin Tax Law, Rojas said the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) provided PHP210 million worth of assistance for the Ilocos region tobacco farmers.

"The NTA distributed PHP115 million of the PHP210 million to farmers in the form of cash for land preparation, fertilizers, pesticides, and suckerides," he added.

Under the law, 15 percent of the incremental revenue collected from the excise tax on tobacco products shall be allocated and divided among the provinces producing burley and native tobacco in accordance with the volume of tobacco leaf production. (PNA)