MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Franklin Drilon on Monday said he expects the number of smokers in the Philippines to drop due to higher taxes on tobacco and other "sin" products.
Speaking to radio dzMM, the Senate finance committee chairman said there are about 17 million smokers in the country who smoke an average of 10 cigarettes a day. He estimated that Filipinos smoke about 1 billion packs of cigarettes every quarter, or 4 billion packs a year.
Drilon said major tobacco companies might have increased production of cigarettes last year to avail of the old tax rate. He said these old stocks of cigarettes could then be sold for higher prices when the new tax rate kicks in this year.
"My suspicion is that Philip Morris will increase production to 5 billion because hinabol pa yung mababang buwis nuong 2012. Alam nila na tataas. I will not be suprised if they frontloaded for the first quarter of 2013," he said.
Drilon said that from a health sector perspective, the higher cigarette prices could encourage smokers to kick the habit while dissuading young people from buying cigarettes.