Tobacco firm sees up to 15% decline, 14/09/09

  PROSPECTS for the local tobacco industry have become dimmer with legislated tax hikes aggravating the weakening of demand for cigarette products amid the slow economy, according to a tobacco executive.

In a chance interview, Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. president Chris Nelson said the total industry could go down by 10% to 15% this year, pointing out that the increase in excise taxes in January has hampered demand for tobacco products. The company is the local arm of cigarette maker Philip Morris International.

“If you look at the total market, it is already off by 30% [in the first half] … The impact is sharper at the start of the year but tends to moderate over time,” Mr. Nelson said.

Price increases for the Philip Morris and Marlboro brands following the increase in excise taxes and the weak economy resulted in a drop in consumption, he said.