Holy smoke! Where have cigarettes gone?



DAVAO CITY—Still dying for a smoke?

Either you kick the habit now or you chew gum for a week. Hopefully by then, your favorite stick will be back in the market—except that it will cost you more.

Cigarette smokers were finding it hard to find their favorite brands here and in other parts of Southern Mindanao Thursday because most wholesalers and retailers claimed they had run out of supply.

Major cigarette brands started to disappear from stores here shortly after Christmas—days before the sin tax law came into effect.

The department manager of a major mall and grocery store here, with branches in other parts of Mindanao and the Visayas, said they had run out of stock and that their sources had indicated their supplies would not be available until next week.

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

Pity the drinkers, too

It isn’t only cigarettes that have disappeared from their inventory but alcoholic drinks as well, such as Emperador Light and Tanduay Rhum, she said.

“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, which took effect on New Year’s Day.

In another mall, which used to sell Marlboro Red 20s at P308 per ream of 10 packs before Christmas, stocks started to appear on Thursday.

Well and good—except that each ream now sells at P400.40.

Price doesn’t matter?

A cashier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the stocks were new but were being sold at a higher price based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

The new price didn’t seem to bother one smoker much.

Renier, 40, who has been smoking for more than 20 years, said his brand, Fortune, was now 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 grin.

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

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

Selma has tried a mentholated brand, which costs P30 per pack. “But I still could not adjust,” he said.

Hoarding suspected

Francis Balong, another smoker, said he was surprised to find out on Christmas Day that his brand had disappeared from the shelves of his  favorite grocery store.

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

He suspected the store had stopped displaying the cigarettes in anticipation of a price increase.

“Maybe they hid their stocks,” Balong said.

Old stocks not covered

Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares said during a radio interview on Jan. 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 purchased and stockpiled, projecting that there would be an increase in prices on Jan. 1,” she said.

Henares said in another interview that the sin tax law did not cover prior stocks. “Only new stocks delivered by manufacturers,” she said.

But while retailers were trying to make a killing by padding up the prices of stocks which they bought at cheaper prices last month, Henares admitted that the government could not 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 items are concerned,” she said.

Henares said the only thing the government could do would be to tax these based on their declared incomes from selling these items.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_POBZSV5PGTGUS3YA2KR2NZI3HA Alex

    obviously there’s cigarette hoarding happening as they are expecting the price increase.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RDDM5UQ45HLPPKM66KYEBCMTCE dave

    and there it goes the 40-billion earning of the government from these products.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MDAWMT3LIDHOCW7ZTSYXZEUQQ4 ghe

    Still the cheapest in asia.

    • guwaps

      Comparison of local prices with those in other countries is more appropriate if the price of the cigarette is expressed as a function of daily income and if the resulting ratio is still low, then I will agree with you certainly.

      • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo


  • speaksoftlylove

    While greed is the motivation of this shrewd businessmen, what they anticipated is that manufacturer’s will jack up their prices much more than what has been envisioned by Congress, since they will of course factor the abrupt increase in taxes due to the sin tax law, passing it on to the consumers. Ultimately, the result would be a drastic decrease of cigarette and alcohol consumers resulting in less revenue. Less revenue means less tax collection (how many billions are envisioned, dream on?) So, the government has to contend with “win some, lose some reality.” While they may have successfully reduced smoking, the more pressing objective which is to raise revenue would be a nightmare. PNoy has to tap from their huge pork barrel treasurers or CCT funds *which of course is an impossible thing) otherwise those palace Einsteins would have to invent another scheme for taxation which will further increase the burden of the lowly citizens.

    • http://twitter.com/izahmzng Izah Magtibay

      Of course the tobacco and alcohol industry will suffer from decreasing revenues, but the government did not impose the sin tax law to conspire against these industries. The decreasing consumption of cigarettes and alcohol will also, in the long run, help diminish the government spending that is alloted to public health services concerned with tobacco and alcohol consumption. This may not raise government revenue, but it will definitely decrease government spending, as little as it may be (seeing that public health services sector in the Philippines is not exactly an exceptional one).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryan-Kevin-O-Tung/1140574834 Bryan Kevin O. Tung


  • Simon Ward

    Well, in the case of my local sari sari, the owner is claiming she has no stock. But I know for a fact that she has loads, and is waiting a few days so she can pretend they’re new stock and sell them at the new prices. I put her up to this idea as a joke, but didn’t think she’d follow through … or at least not to the point of refusing to sell even to me :)

    Multiply that by a few million sari sari, and that alone would account for shortages.

    • marionics

      he he you have reaped what you hath sown

    • taga_ilog

      why o why did you gave her that very bright idea hahaha, I can see her counting her profit by now

  • Carum Al Dumal

    Cigs are 50 Baht or around 70 pesos per pack of 20 cigarettes in Thailand. Forty pesos per pack in the Philippines is still WAY TOO CHEAP! Cigarettes is not a prime commodity. If the vendors hoard – that is up to them. You PAY for your habit.

    • marionics

      sa taiwan umaabot hanggang NT$70 o P98 isang kaha

      • taga_ilog

         sa magallanes cavite, punta lang sa likod bahay, irolyo mo lang me yosi ka na hehehe

      • marionics

        aaaah mas ok yun. ala ba tayo diyaaaan?? he he

      • taga_ilog

        ala ehh hehehe, 

      • marionics

        dapat ma legal na rin yan gaya sa amsterdam at sa washington state at oregon yata he he

      • taga_ilog

        never have tried but my friend drinks it as a tea, ingat ka pre, baka sakyan yan ng mga moralista kuno hehehe. 

      • marionics

        thanks for the warning but what’s the worst they can do which i would care about? he he

        well, under this cloak of annonimity i can admit that i have done pot back in the day and like it and would do it again if given a good chance without being caught he he

      • tarikan

        Tuyong dahon naman ng papaya ang tinitira nila. Kunwari nagha-high hehehe! 

    • elmersvd

      Dito sa New Zealand ay NZD 14.30 or Php 481.00 per PACK! so in the Philippines it is way too cheap pa rIn! 

      • marionics

        wow! buti may nagyoyosi pa diyan. kung sabagay malayo namang mas mayaman per capita diyan

      • tarikan

        Bottom line: panalo pa rin ang cigarette lobby or yung mga kaberks ni Sen. Ralph Recto. Padaplis lang na tinaga ang tobako lobby. In no time high profits will be back. Sunog baga still rejoices. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RMNEZCQQHXWOQRXJROQ2CORFU Homer Guo

       sa china 120pesos equivalent per pack. malayo nga sa presyo sa pinas.

    • kw_inq

      tama lang muna na mas mura ang presyo ng yosi sa pilipinas ngaun. baka mag-smuggle na naman ng mga yosi galing sa china.

  • Rovingmoron

    If the BIR could not run after those who hoard their cigarettes and liquors, what’s the use anyway of giving comments to the public? Just wasting your saliva.

  • generalproblem

    i hoard nila wala naman problema yan kasi di naman commodity tulad ng langis at bigas.

    • Carum Al Dumal

       You are right! It is NOT a basic commodity.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ME73SJ2KNVTMNU4JMRMRLRYPVQ zom

    dapat gawing 500 pesos per pack! lintik na yan! salot yang mga nagyoyosi na yan!

  • $23257130

    mabuti yan. nakakadiri ang mga ng y yosi noh. bad breath na yuckies pa. eeeeewwwwwwww

  • tilamsik

    Why not just close the factories and rid people of a common health hazard

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M6UL2UG4OGTMCLSYGB5MVJ7USE InSearchOfTruth

      ipokrito kasi gobyerno natin.  sinasabi ng doh na health hazard daw ang smoking pero ayaw i-ban ang tobacco products.

      • tarikan

        Kasi umiiyak mga Ilokano. Marami raw mawawalan ng hanapbuhay…yung mga nagtatanim ng tabako. Kung ako sa kanila, pag wala na talagang makain eh di ngatain ang tabako. You eat your produce, self reliant. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYCRVBBE6BG4ZQWRDCRAG32YJA Ross

    Make 1000 per pack.

  • Mux

    Not just in Visayas and Mindanao but here in Pasig as well. My favorite Jewels Convenience Store right next to Valle Verde country club claimed to have no stock. I enter up buying Marlboro Lights 10s from Caltex Star Mart for a whopping P 28 for ten sticks. 

  • joshmale2004

    A barber smoking Philip Morris for P40.00 a pack (old price)? Who says Philippines is a poor country?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    My question is something funny and stupid but i think it is right and lawful:

    Karapatan ko bang humingi or mag-demand ng resibo sa isang “Sari-sari store” kapag bumili ako ng isang kaha (one pack) para magamit ko for my Income Tax Return?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RMNEZCQQHXWOQRXJROQ2CORFU Homer Guo

       opo sa pagkakaalam ko pwede humingi. lalo na if legit ang sari- sari store, they’re supposed to pay tax so dapat me resibo din sila.

      • tarikan

        Hindi nanghihingi ng resibo si dennis para gamitin ng sari-sari store sa tax. Si dennis ang gagamit ng resibo for his income tax purpose. Sa palagay ko hindi pwede gamitin ni dennis for his income tax deduction. 

  • $26606290

    Everyone living in Metro Manila are smokers…..every one.   More and more non-smokers here die of lung cancer….thanks to the dark cloud of smog floating over the city.   Anyone in Antipolo or the hills of Rizal can see this everyday                                          
    …..but all these is not about health,  it’s about money.

  • joshmale2004

    The worst and ugliest culture of the Filipinos is unfolding right before our very eyes. People complaining they are the poorest of the poor, can not send their children to school, barely can provide for food and clothing. And yet they can remedy and afford spending for their daily smoking and drinking habit.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RMNEZCQQHXWOQRXJROQ2CORFU Homer Guo

       agree. bisyo ang inuuna kesa pamilya. parang texting, adik talaga ibang pinoy.

    • marionics

      di mo pa sinali ang mga sabungero na inuuna pa ang pakain sa manok keysa sa anak he he. i have seen this first hand

      • joshmale2004

        Yup. forgot about that.

    • maypakialam

      yung binggo at tong its sa kapit bahay?hehehehehehe

  • kilabot

    hoarded by noykapon. ubo ubo ubo.

  • entong238

    Ano fa, plain and simple, HOARDING so as to double the gain is the imprudent motive of these sellers. Doble kita ang mangyari pag tinago at lalabas ang bagong presyo na mas mataas. Kagaya din sa gasolina na dating gawi

  • Your_King

    The cigarettes have all gone to Aquino and all his KKK buddies who are known to be heavy smokers.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WTIRTIXLBR5X47RMVKB3T43SWA charles

    yeah..cigarette prices here are still the cheapest in Asia…some rolling vendors here in Davao are already even selling Marlboro cigarettes at 5 pesos per stick…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BXBYZ5EB467UVJRXK4IOM5BX4Y Todd

    It’s cheaper to quit of course. Just think of the extra money these people would have if they didn’t have these vices.

  • tarikan

    Magrolyo na lang muna kayo mga sunog baga ng diaryo. One, two weeks lang naman tapos niyan may TB na hehehe.

  • Carum Al Dumal

    In Thailand, very few women smoke. Many who smoke are prostitutes or ladies of the night or what may be called “liberated” women. Just a thought about the word “Liberated”. How can they be Liberated when they are HOOKED on tobacco?

  • boybakal

    If this Sin Tax Bill is Good for the poor filipino smokers, then it is Bad for the gov’t and gov’t officials.

    Good in a way that the poor cannot afford anymore to buy one stick of cigarettes and it is good for their lungs as they say…No more sunog baga.

    Bad for the gov’t for the sale of cigarettes and liquor will go down and no Revenue for the government.

    Bad for Pnoy and gov’t officials as they are the only ones who can afford to buy cigarettes to Smoke, pakete, Drink brandy and another alcohol drink…it means they will be the
    New Sunog Baga ang Sunog Bituka,

    Bad for them and Good for Us….as they say, The End Justifies the Sin.

  • opinyonlangpo

    I just found out that I can still buy my cigarrette at the same price if I buy it per ream. No change in the budget.

  • zeroko

    It is a clear sign of Chinese cartel on the loose. They horde  the cigarette prior to the increase to maximize their profit. He he he. Chinese style of doing business. Sana mabulok lahat ng tinago nila. Mga profiteers!

  • indiosbravos2002

    The cigarette makers should have changed their design pre and post implementation of the sin tax. Para magkabistuha na kung sino hoarders.

  • denzel_alfonso

    Tigil nyo na para msaya!

    • Ipat G. Luna

      Correct, bakit wala man lamang paragraph dito tungkol sa masamang dulot ng yosi at tungkol sa new year’s resolution na hwag na mag-yosi.

  • Twobeers

    OMG! P400 per cartoon, what am I to do now? Everytime I visit the Philippines I bring back 30-40 cartoons of cigarettes with me. Here in Canada, my favorite brand here costs $85.00 CAD which is at todays exchange 3,522.08 PHP!

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