A number of Indonesian groups are opposing a bill in the House of Representatives that seeks to set a minimum price for cigarettes, according to a story in The Philippine Star.
The groups described the move as being more of a profit strategy for the tobacco industry than a tobacco control measure.
The Action for Economic Reforms, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, the New Voice Association of the Philippines, the Philippine College of Physicians Foundation, the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine, Woman Health Philippines and the Youth For Sin Tax Coalition issued a joint statement opposing the minimum cigarette price (MCP) bill.
While the MCP bill looked similar to the sin tax law in making cigarettes less affordable, the groups said it would ‘accrue the profits to tobacco companies instead of the public’.
The proposed MCP bill would prohibit the sale of cigarettes at a price below P44 per pack next year, with the supposed intention of preventing young people from smoking.
The proposed measure sets a P38 per pack minimum price this year, a price that would increase to P44 a pack next year and to P51 by 2017.
The measure is supported by Japan Tobacco International Philippines (JTI) and Bulgartabac Philippines, which submitted separate position papers to Congress. They said the bill would curb the sale of illicit cigarettes and would help improve the government’s fiscal position.
The cigarette firm Mighty Corp. had sought more time to study the measure but said that it “fully subscribed to the noble intention of the subject bill”.
Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine said the proliferation of cheap cigarettes would be addressed by the ‘sin tax’ law’s provision of the unitary tax system by 2017.
Meanwhile, Tony Leachon of the Philippine College of Physicians Foundation said the new measure was misleading.
“Why are they using the language of public health?,” he asked. “Unlike what they imply, their objective has nothing to do with youth smoking,” he said.
Leachon said the move would result in bigger profits for tobacco firms.