July 20, 2010 - The Philippine unit of Philip Morris International, Inc. recently reported its sales had become higher than the average annual 2-percent to 3-percent growth, earning its place as the third biggest by volume around the world.
If the report is true, this would only lead to a public-health crisis and do more harm to the economy than good, said the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP).
“The robust growth of the tobacco industry will not likely translate to better government revenues because this will result in higher public-health expenditure to subsidize the poor who will be afflicted with smoking-related diseases,” Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP executive director, said in a statement.
Before, Limpin noted 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 said.
The government, she said, should be alarmed by this as “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.”
In 2006, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) annual report showed that excise tax collection from tobacco amounted to P26.8 billion (576,344,086.02 USD), or 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) which found that health-care expenditures in only four major diseases, namely, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive lung diseases amounted to P276 billion (5,935,483,870.97 USD).
A pulmonologist by profession and vice president of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), Limpin said these four major diseases are known to be caused by cigarette smoking or tobacco consumption. “The burden of smoking-related diseases on the government coffers and the people’s pockets easily wipes out whatever revenues the industry claims to provide through taxes,” Limpin added.
FCAP is an alliance of medical professionals, religious groups and consumer rights activists working on curbing the smoking epidemic.
AT LEAST 250 Filipinos die each day, yes, each day, or about 90,000 a year, from smoking-related illnesses, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic diseases, and cancers, especially lung cancers. In Malaysia about 10,000, and Vietnam at least 40,000, die annually from tobacco-related conditions. Indonesia’s death toll is the worst: 400,000 a year. (Smoking kills 250 daily by Dr. Philip S. Chua, Cebu Daily News, 7/12/2009)
Reference: Group warns of dire effects of increase in cigarette sales, written by Max V. de Leon, Reporter, Business Mirror, 7/19/2010.
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