MANILA - The government is strengthening efforts against cigarette smuggling, a finance official said Wednesday, as lawmakers rush to pass a bill that will increase tobacco taxes.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Senate version of the measure, which cigarette manufacturers said could give rise to smuggling as consumers shift to cheaper alternatives.
"Smuggling is also a very important issue that we are taking very seriously," Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino told ANC's Headstart.
A government crackdown has led to the seizure of smuggled cigarettes and machines used to produced them, Lambino said.
"That's why these enforcement measures have to keep strengthening and intensifying," he said.
Senate Bill No. 2233 raises excise taxes on cigarettes by P45 per pack by 2020, P50 per pack by 2021, P55 per pack by 2022, and P60 per pack by 2023.
It also places a P10 tax for every 10 milliliters of vaping liquids.