A high-ranking leader of the National Unity Party (NUP) is strongly supporting a measure that aims to deter smoking among the youth by setting a high minimum floor price for locally sold cigarettes.
Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., the NUP’s vice president for external affairs, said the proposal will also help raise additional revenues for state health care.
“This will hit two birds with one stone—it discourages people from smoking and will bring more money to the national coffers. Of course, we want the bill’s primary objective of deterring youth smoking to succeed, after all, as public officials, we must put forward the best interest of the nation at heart and in this case, their health,” Barzaga said.
He was referring to House Bill 5013 authored by Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona which seeks to impose a minimum price of P38 per cigarette pack beginning the first year of its implementation, P44 by the following year and P51 the next year. After this three-year period, the floor price would be adjusted every year by four percent.
The Minimum Cigarette Price (MCP) does not yet include the excise tax and 12 percent value added tax. Under the Sin Tax Reform Law, the excise tax rate on cigarettes priced P11.50 and below is P21 per pack for 2015, P25 in 2016 and P30 in 2017 when the unitary tax rate is implemented.
Violators of the proposed law face jail time of not less than six months to a maximum of five years, and a fine ranging from P50,000 up to P2 million, depending on the quantity of cigarettes.
Under the bill, the aggregate price of the individual sticks should not be less than the MCP per pack. Any kind of price promotion that would undermine the MCP is prohibited under the measure.
Barzaga said that since HB 5016 zeroes in on the youth’s limited buying power, the measure would help discourage prospective smokers in the 18- to 24-year old age group from smoking.