Cigarette sales could lead to health crisis, 19/07/10

The health group, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) warned of public health crisis if the business prospects of the tobacco industry continue to grow in the country.

“The robust growth of the tobacco industry will not likely translate to better government revenues because this will result to higher public health expenditure to subsidize the poor who will be afflicted with smoking-related diseases,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP Executive Director.

The advocacy group cited the recent report of Philippine unit of Philip Morris International, Inc. that it posted higher sales than the average annual 2%-3% growth earnings making it the third biggest by volume around the world.

Prior to the merger with Fortune Tobacco, Philip Morris said the Philippine unit was just within the top 25 globally by volume for Philip Morris, which distributes its products in 160 countries and is the world’s largest non-state-owned tobacco group.

“Tobacco and cigarettes, unlike any consumer product cause fatal health consequences that any indication of increase in sales would mean more Filipinos will potentially acquire life-threatening smoking-related diseases,” Limpin explained.

The head of FCAP said the government must be alarmed by this development in the local tobacco industry landscape.

“Tobacco is not just a simple sin product. It is the worst kind of sin product as it brings nothing good, but all evils especially to our youths. We would not only be losing future leaders to smoking-related diseases, we would also be spending government funds on otherwise, preventable diseases caused by addiction, ” Limpin said.

Figures from the 2006 Bureau of Internal Revenue annual report found that excise tax collection from tobacco amounted to P26.8 billion contributing a mere 4.1 percent of the total BIR collection during that period.

However, FCAP cited the 2005-2006 Tobacco and Poverty Study in the Philippines done by the UP College of Public Health, National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health (DOH), and World Health Organization (WHO) that found healthcare expenditures in only four major diseases, namely, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive lung diseases amount to P276 billion.

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