Lawmakers debunk new tobacco study

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Lawmakers have criticized giant cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris for funding a report on illicit trade in the tobacco industry to deceive the public and policy makers in an effort to regain control of the country’s multi-billion peso tobacco industry. “Studies like this are meant to discredit the effectiveness of the existing Sin Tax Law that has benefited the government and its health reform programs,” Deputy House Speaker Sergio Apostol said.

“We cannot rely on questionable studies used as references to fabricate scenarios about our local industries,” Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, vice chairman of the ways and means committee, agreed.

Isabela 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Albano 3rd, who represents one of the country’s tobacco-growing provinces, said the alleged study “is clearly a dirty tactic to justify that there is a flaw in the existing Sin Tax Law and influence legislation to amend it while Bureau of Internal Revenue statistics say otherwise.”

The lawmakers pointed out that Republic Act 10351 or the sin tax reform law has been successful in raising revenues for the government and curbing smoking, especially among the youth and the poor.


The lawmakers assailed the “Asia-11 Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2012” report prepared by the US-based International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and the UK-based Oxford Economics (OE).

The report covered several Asian markets and claimed that the Philippine government was losing P15 bi lion in revenues due to illicit trade in the tobacco industry. But the Thailand-based anti-tobacco advocacy group Southeast Asian Tobacco Alliance (SEATCA) rejected the report. The group said Philip Morris International funded the report.

SEATCA noted that the report was prepared u ing “flawed methodology, and results in skewed findings supportive of the tobacco industry’s positions on taxation.

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6 Comments

  1. Anna Lisa Marquez on

    These people can keep trying to deny that the illicit trade is a growing problem in the tobacco industry, but unfortunately for them the public is not that easy to fool. It has been obvious for quite some time now that something is off, especially considering Mighty Corp.’s cigarette prices. These lawmakers should just focus on trying to solve the problem instead of putting all their efforts into denying what we all know to be true anyway.

  2. The report does not discredit the existing Sin Tax Law. It clearly stated that the government is losing P15 billion in illicit trade. That’s the whole point. How about these lawmakers? Are they doing something to prevent this billions of pesos worth of money that the government lost due to illicit trade? Eh wala naman, puro lang sila papogi.

  3. Benedict Cordero on

    Who’s deceiving the public here? It seems that the Oxford Economics just provided facts and figures. From the looks of it, it seems that these public officials are the ones trying to deceive the general public into thinking that everything is fine and dandy and that the illicit cigarette problem does not exist. What’s the ulterior motive here?

    • Meredith Pacheco on

      This particular group of lawmakers always seem to take anything connected to PMFTC as a personal affront and always go on the attack, no matter how illogical their arguments sound. It doesn’t make sense. The study merely points out that there are areas that need improvement regarding sin tax implementation, and already these lawmakers are on the offensive trying to debunk and discredit a very credible source.

  4. Unfortunately for these lawmakers, the Oxford Economics still definitely comes off as more credible than them. They seem to have this not-so-hidden motive to protect those involved in the illicit cigarette trade. Why go to this extent to try to deny that the illicit trade is a growing problem when it seems clear to everyone else that it really is?

  5. Action for Economic Reforms (AER) is against a study on huge government losses from illegal tobacco trade. Why discredit a study before investigating the matter?