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Tobacco report questioned

/ 08:29 AM July 28, 2014

Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo E. Abu: Questionable studies. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Lawmakers have strongly criticized Philip Morris for allegedly using a meritless study to “deceive” the public and policy makers in a bid to regain control of the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry.

“We cannot rely on questionable studies used as references to fabricate scenarios about our local industries,” said Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo E. Abu, vice chair of the ways and means committee.

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Deputy Speaker Sergio F. Apostol of Leyte’s 2nd District said “studies like this are meant to discredit the effectivity of the existing Sin Tax Law that has benefited the government and its health-reform programs.”

They cited as an example the “Asia-11 Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2012” done by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and the United Kingdom-based Oxford Economics (OE) which claimed that the government was supposedly losing P15 billion in foregone revenues from illicit trade in the tobacco industry.

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The study, commissioned by Philip Morris Asia Ltd., clearly illustrated a tainted business climate for the tobacco industry in Asia and elsewhere in the world to deceive the public, they said.

The Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca) described the study as “more myth than fact” and “uses flawed methodology, and results in skewed findings supportive of the tobacco industry’s positions on taxation.”

Seatca said the study’s merit was questionable because major transnational tobacco companies including Philip Morris International sponsor one of its publishers, the ITIC, despite its declaration as an independent non-profit research and education foundation.

Together with OE, the Asia-11 report, “while being presented as an independent study, was funded by PMI, prepared by ITIC and OE according to agreed terms of reference provided by PMAL,” Seatca revealed.

First District Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, one of the tobacco-growing provinces, said “this is clearly a dirty tactic to justify that there is a flaw in the existing Sin Tax Law and influence legislation to amend it while Bureau of Internal Revenue statistics say otherwise.”

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TAGS: Business, cigarettes, Congress, lawmakers, Philip Morris, sin tax law, tobacco
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