Philippines Mull Ban on Online Cigarettes Sales

Photo: Pete Linforth from Pixabay

The Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) wants to ban internet sales of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

The proposal comes at a time when more Filipinos are using more online transactions to buy products, especially with community quarantines in place to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

E-commerce platforms have been offering cigarettes for sale at discounts of up to 50 percent, raising concerns about illicit trade.

The government’s excise tax collections from alcohol and tobacco products from January to May decreased by 39 percent from with the same period last year due to restrictions on nonessential items.

Citing data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said cigarette factory shipments contracted by 72 percent to 376.3 million packs in the period January-April.

In July last year, the Philippines increased excise taxes on tobacco products and introduced a new tax on e-cigarettes. In January, President Rodrigo Duterte signed off on legislation raising the e-cigarettes taxes.

The DOF expects the additional revenues from these taxes to reach PHP13.2 billion this year and PHO73.1 billion from 2020 to 2022.