Tobacco firms back bill on cigarette floor price (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Tobacco manufacturers have expressed their support on the pending measure in Congress mandating a minimum cigarette price.

In separate position papers, Japan Tobacco International Philippines (JTI) and Bulgartabac Philippines said they fully support House Bill 5013, which sets a floor price for cigarette packs.

Mighty Corp., meanwhile, asked for more time to study the measure but stressed it has already “fully subscribed to the noble intention of the subject bill.”

The proposed measure sets a minimum price of P38 per cigarette pack eyed to be implemented this year. The floor price will then be increased to P44 next year and to P51 by 2017.

The bill also proposed an annual four-percent increase for the minimum price of cigarette packs starting 2018.

“We see the proposed minimum cigarette price as a useful additional tool to enforce against any illegal activities, all the more since it applies to tobacco retailers, importers, as well as manufacturers,” Manos Koukourakis, JTI general manager, said.

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In a position paper, JTI said the measure would curb the sale of illicit cigarettes and help improve the government’s fiscal position.

This will also complement the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax stamp system, which was recently implemented to reduce illegal trade of cigarettes in the country.

Bulgartabac president Roger Edmeston Lamb, meanwhile, said his company is amenable to the proposed minimum prices under the bill.