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Tax policy should encourage switch to smoke-free options

The government’s tax policy should encourage Filipino smokers to switch to smoke-free alternatives, according to an executive of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation Inc.

“The government should adopt a tax policy that would encourage Filipino smokers who can’t or won’t quit smoke to switch to smoke-free alternatives. We believe that such a tax policy is wholly consistent with the principle behind the sin taxes and related initiatives in the past,” said Patrick Muttart, external affairs and communications director of PMFTC.

Muttart cited the government’s deliberate policy decision in the TRAIN Law to exempt purely electric vehicles from the excise tax on automobile, with hybrid vehicles enjoying a 50 percent lower tax rate. 

“This tax break was an acknowledgement that electric and hybrid vehicles, which eliminate or reduce combustion, can play a positive role in improving the health and wellbeing of Filipinos,” he said.

Muttart spoke during the public hearing on Package 2+ of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program held on September 5, 2019 at the Senate. The hearing, was chaired by Senator Pia S. Cayetano who heads the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. 

“There are already more than 225,000 users of smoke-free products in the Philippines. Our company’s research indicates that almost 60% of Filipino smokers are open to switching to smoke-free alternatives—that’s a pool of up to nine million Filipino smokers,” said Muttart. 

By switching to smoke-free alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, smokers fundamentally change their risk profile, according to Muttart. 

He cited the Public Health England statement that e-cigarettes were 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes. 

He also mentioned the recent decision of the US Food and Drug Administration, after reviewing almost 2 million pages of evidence and examining Philip Morris processes and facilities, to authorize the sale of IQOS in the United States, stating that this is “appropriate for the protection of public health.” 

IQOS is the Philip Morris heated tobacco system. At the heart of IQOS are sophisticated electronics that heat specially designed heated tobacco units. IQOS heats the tobacco just enough to release a flavorful nicotine-containing tobacco vapor but without burning the tobacco.

Topics: Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation Inc , TRAIN law , Tax
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