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DOF seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 03:45 AM December 02, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is pushing for a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vapes to discourage the youth from buying these products.

“Our original position has always been to make sure that the flavors appealing to the youth are not allowed,” Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said.

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Last week, the state of Massachusetts—the first in the United States—approved legislation restricting the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products starting June next year.

‘Should taste like tobacco’

In October, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said President Rodrigo Duterte wanted “to make sure that e-cigarettes taste only like tobacco and nothing else.”

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Chua said the DOF was still awaiting an executive order clarifying the scope of the President’s ban on e-cigarettes.

Assistant Finance Secretary Tony Lambino said higher vape taxes alone would add about P2 billion in revenues if implemented next year.

As early as last year, documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that the DOF was pushing to prohibit the importation and sale of e-cigarettes.

For its part, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is already preparing new tax stamps in anticipation of increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes.

“There’s ongoing discussion with the potential [tax stamps] suppliers to ensure the security measures are in place so that there will be proper monitoring of the excisable products,” BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa Cabreros said.

“There are some things that are needed to be ironed out because we don’t want to just be imposing our rushed stamps and they’re easily faked or reproduced so it defeats the purpose,” Cabreros said.

Chua is hopeful that the spin-off to package “2 plus” of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program—including higher excise taxes on alcoholic drinks as well as levy on heated tobacco and vaping products similar to rates to be slapped on cigarettes in 2020—will be approved before yearend.

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These taxes are expected to generate P47 billion in revenues during the first year of implementation.

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