House OKs bill increasing taxes on alcohol, e-cigarettes starting 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos may soon have to pay more for alcoholic drinks, electronic cigarettes, and products for vaping after the House of Representatives approved a bill increasing the excise taxes on these products.

On Tuesday, August 20, lawmakers approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 1026 with a vote of 184-2-1.

HB No. 1026 is the first measure to successfully hurdle the House in the 18th Congress, after it breezed through the committee on ways and means on August 13 and was passed on 2nd reading in the plenary on August 14. (READ: DOF urges lawmakers to speed up alcohol excise tax hike)

The Sin Tax Coalition thanked ways and means panel chairperson Joey Salceda and the rest of the lawmakers for HB No. 1026's swift passage in the House.

"Alcohol and tobacco products are leading causes of non-communicable disease, and this measure will be a positive step in discouraging Filipinos from excessively consuming the product," said Sin Tax Coalition co-convener Dr Anthony Leachon.

The original version of HB No. 1026 initially proposed taxes worth P30 up to P60 on alcoholic drinks only.

But just before the bill was approved on 2nd reading last week, the House substituted its original version with a new one that also imposes P40 to P60 worth of taxes on heated tobacco products or electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

E-cigarette groups like the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association and Vapers PH have opposed HB No. 1206, arguing that the House failed to properly consult them before the bill's passage.

"These proposed heavy sanctions on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products will result [in] a public health tragedy.... Heavy taxes on reduced-risk products will only result to smokers sticking it out with conventional cigarettes instead of switching to less harmful nicotine products," said Vapers PH president Mark Czerwin Erana.

A study in the United States, however, showed people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to have heart problems than those who don't.

The additional government revenue that would be generated from the proposed excise taxes would primarily fund the universal health care program.

HB No. 1206 will now be transmitted to the Senate, where it will have to go through another 3 readings before the measure can be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.

How much would the increase be for alcohol taxes? HB No. 1026 would increase excise taxes for distilled spirits like gin, rum, and vodka. The proposed increases are as follows:

How much would the increase be for heated tobacco taxes? These are the proposed increases for heated tobacco products and vapor products:

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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