Lucky Strike maker supports sin tax bill

Posted at 05/10/12 4:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - British American Tobacco, maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, said the Department of Finance-proposed two-tier system on tobacco is the best compromise between stakeholders and the government.

BAT Philipppines general manager James Lafferty welcomed the House ways and means committee's approval of House Bill 5727, which seeks to reform the excise tax on "sin" products such as tobacco and liquor.

Even with amendments, the bill would still achieve the government's revenue targets and level the playing field in the tobacco industry.

"It also takes away the arguments of those against reform. We believe that there is no longer any reason why the Aquino administration's reform efforts should be opposed or stalled," he said.

Lafferty expressed hope Congress will act swiftly on the bill's approval.

BAT has been against the current law that imposed higher taxes on cigarette brands that entered the Philippine market after 1996. This meant brands like Lucky Strike, which were introduced in 2001, had to pay higher taxes, while competitors paid lower taxes.

"As we have previously announced, BAT is and will continue to be committed to the Philippines market. The level playing field will allow us to do even more in terms of job creation, revenue contribution, and increased investments," Lafferty said.

BAT is planning to invest $200 million in the Philippines in the next five years to develop, produce, distribute and market its brands, but this depends on whether there is a level playing field in the tobacco industry.