Philippines may lose P13.3 billion to illegal vapes

Philippine government officials have said that the government could lose about 13.3 billion pesos (about 1.7 billion yuan) if sales of illegal e-cigarette brands continue, Philippine media Philstar reported on August 24th.

Sharon Garin Garin, Undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Energy (SharonGarin) According to the report, this amount is equivalent to Filipinos consuming 416 million mg of illegal e-cigarette brands.

Garin said that the government’s health insurance program may find it difficult to raise a total amount that could exceed P50 billion (about P6.4 billion) considering the loss of tax revenue from e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

He admitted that it is currently difficult for the government to crack down on those who smuggle illegal cigarettes and e-cigarette brands, as well as those who produce locally but evade the law.

They have learned how to expand their business as illicit traders become more creative every day.

As far as she knows, the Philippines is an archipelago country, and law enforcement agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs cannot control every port in China. Some e-cigarettes and cigarette products enter the country through individual ports. In addition, some companies have introduced machines to ensure that they produce in the Philippines without paying taxes.

Garin called on the public to be “vigilant” in buying and consuming illegal cigarettes and e-cigarette brands.

Denis Gorkun, president of Filmore International Philippines Corporation (PMFTC), whose company has been promoting e-cigarettes as a “better alternative,” called on the government, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to set standards for e-cigarette brands.

He noted that his company’s employees have discovered “50 to 60 percent” of illegal cigarette and e-cigarette brands in Mindanao. These products may have come from ships entering the region and made their way to cafeterias or retail outlets.

By law, e-cigarette manufacturers are not allowed to sell to minors or appeal to children, among other restrictions.

Golkun also said the company has “invested P500 billion” in introducing new products such as e-cigarettes and nicotine patches and introducing them to the market as an alternative to smoking, even making them cheaper through installment payments.

In an effort to prevent people from continuing to smoke, Garin countered calls to raise taxes on e-cigarette brands as she claimed it could attract more illegal e-cigarette traders to the market.

Garin said:
“If we make it more expensive, they’ll go for cheaper options. I don’t think it will stop our fellow citizens from continuing to smoke, whether it’s taxed, controlled, or banned.”