Tuesday, August 20, 2019


People who have lived in the eighties and early nineties might still remember a time when commercials for cigarettes had a prominent place on TV. Several years and a rise of greater health awareness later, cigarettes have been mostly consigned to just print ads, forced to carry graphic health warnings, and are made more expensive by Philippine “Sin Tax” legislation. That has not stopped many Filipinos from risking their health by buying cigarette sticks or their less-than-ideal alternative, vaporizers/vapes. In a bid to make them get the message, Congress is pushing a bill calling for a new Sin Tax hike.

CNN Philippines reports that the Philippine House of Representatives has approved a final reading for a bill that will make substantial additions to existing Sin Tax law. To wit, the lower house of Congress will beef up the excise tax on alcoholic drinks and new taxes will be levied on both cigarettes and vaping products. Congressmen would vote an overwhelming 184 in favor against two opposed and one abstaining last week to approve the measure on only its second reading. This is the first House bill approved by the 18th Congress that is not a carry-over from the previous one.

In specific, the net retail price of alcoholic beverages will receive a 22% excise tax. It is followed by P35 per proof liter in specific tax that will increase every year by 7%, starting from 2023. These taxes will become effective starting January 1, 2020 so by 2021 the tax per proof liter of alcohol will go past P40. On the same year as this alcohol tax takes effect, cigarettes will have P45 additional in tax for every 20-stick pack, and it will be upped by P5 every year afterward until the year 2024, when it will shift to a 5% annual tax increase instead.

Even vaporizers are not spared, as by next year each milliliter (ml) of vaping solution will have a punishing P30 tax. It can potentially reach P45 within three years before it also transitions to a 5% annual hike similar to cigarettes starting in 2024. And this new legislation is separate from the 2020-effective P45-per-pack tax law signed last month by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been a driving force in increasing tax levies for tobacco and alcohol to prohibitively expensive levels, which he again referred to in the fourth State of the Nation Address of his administration this past June.

Drinkers, smokers and vapers need not fret much seeing as these taxes fleeced from them for their fixes will go to the Universal Health Care Law that could cover their sicknesses in the future. The Philippine Senate is currently working on its own version of this new Sin Tax bill.

Image from Philippines Lifestyle News


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