Cigarettes ‘disappearing’ from shelves in Mindanao areas


DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Cigarette smokers continue to find it hard to buy their favorite brands here and in other parts of Southern Mindanao as of Thursday as most wholesalers and retailers claim there was still scarcity of supply.

Major cigarette brands started to disappear from stores shortly after Christmas, less than a week before the Sin Tax Law came into effect.

The department manager of a major mall and grocery store here, which has branches in various Mindanao and Visayas areas, said they had ran out of stock and that their sources had indicated early on that supplies would be available by next week yet.

“All our branches in Mindanao and Visayas have no stocks now,” the manager, who declined to give her name due to lack of authority to speak on the matter, said.

She said not only cigarettes have disappeared from their inventory but alcoholic drinks as well, such as the more popular Emperador Lights and Tanduay Rhum.

“By next week, the supply could return to normal but the prices would be higher than usual,” the manager said.

She said the price increase was caused by the implementation of the Sin Tax Law.

In another mall here, which sold Marlboro Red 20s at P308 per ream (one ream contains 10 packs) before Christmas, stocks started to show up Thursday.

But a price check revealed that per ream now sells at P400.40.

A cashier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the stocks were new and were being sold based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Renier, 40, a smoker for more than 20 years now, said buying from big grocery stores was cheaper for him but it was difficult to find his brand.

He said his cigarette brand, Fortune, was being sold at the neighborhood store for P1.65 per stick or P33 per pack, up P18 from last month’s P15 per pack.

“I still buy. I can’t stand [not] smoking especially after eating,” Renier, a government worker, said with a wide grin.

David Selma, a barber, said he had been trying to shift to cheaper brands since his brand, Philip Morris, became so expensive.

From last year’s P40 per pack at a store near his shop, Philip Morris now sells at P55 per pack.

“I have tried Bowling Green menthol and still could not adjust, but it’s far cheaper at P30 per pack,” he said.

Francis Balong, another smoker, said he was surprised on Christmas Day to find his cigarette brand suddenly gone from the shelves of a favorite grocery store.

“I bought one pack in the morning and returned before sunset to buy another pack, only to find out they had no more stocks, including that of other brands. That was unbelievable because when I bought one in the morning, they still had a lot of cigarettes on display,” Balong said.

He said he suspected that the store had withdrawn the cigarettes from display in anticipation of the price increase this month. “Maybe they hid their stocks,” Balong said.

Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares had admitted during an interview by a Manila-based radio station on January 1 that the disappearance of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks from store shelves could be blamed on hoarding by some retailers.

“Actually they took advantage. Some people, what they did, they purchased and stockpiled projecting that there would be an increase in prices on January 1,” she said.

In an interview later by ANC, Henares bared that the Sin tax Law did not cover prior stocks. “Only new stocks delivered by manufacturers,” she said.

But while retailers have started to make a killing from selling stocks they bought cheaper last month at a much higher price these days, Henares admitted that the government cannot run after them.

“Cigarettes and alcohol are not considered basic commodities so there is no price control for such products. Nobody can be held liable for hoarding as far as these are concerned,” she said.

Henares said the only thing the government can do is to tax them based on their declared income from selling these items.

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  • Andrei Mendoza

    Cigarette disappearing from shelves? is a total BS, I’d say, its a stock hoarding, they will hide their supplies which they got at a cheaper cost before the sin tax takes effect, you will see loads of them in a few days after the sin tax in effect.

  • Diepor

    Whats the big deal ? Its only a very small amount, if you cant afford 1 peso hike pr.stick I suggest people should quit smoking.

  • wawa2172

    Why government increase the price of cigarette pack to 100.00 Php with 60% of which goes to government as taxes. In this way cigarette would become a luxury item that only the rich who can afford to buy and grill their lungs to cancer, Rich people like PNoy can afford expensive medical expenses from diseases brought about by too much smoking. The catch price for smoking is lung cancer and for the poor it means smoking for their grave. There is a philosophical view na lhat naman mamatay so why stop smoking. I don’t smoke but I know the status od my health and  smoking would make my life miserable as my lungs won’t be able to coped up with it.  I could have been under six feet the ground now. Somehow, smokers know what smoking would do to their body. Libri naman ang hangin, at mausok na ang kapaligiran dahil sa polution dadagagan pa ang yosi tiyak mapapaaga ang pak kikita nyo ni Lord. Higher cigarette proces could save a lot lof lives, so taasan ang ang presyo ang alak at sigarilyo,

  • Guest

    This government is totally unorganized. Already Jan 3 and nobody really knows what to charge.

    All they had to do was create a stamp defining old stock and new and force the sale of old stock at old pricing. Instead we have a bunch of hoarding greedy store owners fixing their own pricing and manipulating stock.

    For example Kevin stores in CDO upped the price to P40 a pack of Fortune right after Christmas and limited sales to one package. Some more reputable stores like Gaisano sold no limit at the old price until stocks ran out….these are the stores  i will now give all my business to in the future, not just for cigarettes but for everything….

  • dxdaistar

     cigarettes here are still cheaper than in Europe. The Sin Tax should have been much more!


    Traders are smart enough to keep or hoard the stocks they bought at a cheaper price and they will unload the stocks later for a higher price. Result: additional profit of ____% because of the increase in the sin tax!

  • Constantine

    The easy solution for this brouhaha on availability of cigarettes is QUIT SMOKING! Tapos ang problema, di ba? 

  • NoWorryBHappy

    Hoarding ! That’s the only reason. Most Filipino-Chinese traders practice this.
    And then they bring back those cigarettes with double the price and blame the
    sin tax bill. But they don’t remit the tax they levied on the cigarettes because they
    were originally purchased at very much lower price.

  • akramgolteb

    Kung mag report naman itong writer na ito sa pagkawala ng supply ng sigarilyo sa Mindanao ay parang mas mabigat pang disaster kaysa nakaraang bagyo. Eh ano ngayon kung nawalan na ng supply ng sigarilyo sa Mindanao o buong Pilipinas? Mas mabuti nga ito eh hindi na magtitiis ng 2nd hand smoke ang mga taong hindi naninigarilyo.

    At mga tita, ang presyo ng sigarilyo sa ibang lugar tulad ng China ay local brand P140 per pack (oo per pack), hindi pa premium brand. Ang mga premium local brand tulad ng gamit nila Mao Tse Dong at Deng Xiao Peng P350 per pack (yes per pack hindi per ream). Kaya ang mga bagong presyo ng yosi dito sa atin ngayon ay sisiw lang sa inyong mga smoker.

  • boybakal

    Cigarettes ‘disappearing’ from shelves in Mindanao areas….of course it does.
    Either nabasa, inanod, tinangay ni typhoon Pablo.

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