July 25, 2019 / 1:57 PM / 5 months ago

Philippines' Duterte signs law raising taxes on tobacco products

MANILA, July 25 (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law further raising taxes on tobacco products to fund the government’s healthcare projects, a cabinet official said on Thursday.

It was the second time Duterte’s administration had raised levies imposed on cigarettes to discourage public consumption.

The new law will “address the urgent need to protect the right to health of the Filipino people,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters.

Higher taxes on cigarettes will generate an estimated 129.9 billion pesos ($2.54 billion) over the next five years, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino told Reuters.

Philippines’ national healthcare project will cost an estimated 1.43 trillion pesos in the first five years of implementation, more than two-thirds of which will be covered by the national budget.

But higher excise taxes could cut into sales of the major Philippine tobacco companies, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco Inc, and e-cigarette manufacturers starting next year.

Duterte, who had said he acquired Buerger’s disease because of smoking, imposed a nationwide smoking ban in public places and on many occasions expressed disdain over the habit.

“Who smokes here? They should be exterminated from the face of the earth,” Duterte said in his annual state of the nation address on Monday.

Duterte asked lawmakers to pass tax laws that would fund his ambitious infrastructure programme.

$1 = 51.0550 Philippine pesos Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema, editing by Larry King

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