SENATOR EDGARDO “Sonny” M. Angara has assured tobacco farmers that they will benefit from the incremental increase in cigarette taxes starting next year following the recent passage of the bill that will increase excise taxes on tobacco products.

Mr. Angara, chair of the Senate ways and means committee, said the new tobacco excise tax bill approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives provides that up to 20% of the incremental revenues from the additional duties will go directly to 23 tobacco-producing provinces to finance programs for farmers.

“Under the measure, 15 percent of excise tax on locally manufactured Virginia-type cigarettes but not exceeding P17 billion will go to Virginia tobacco producing provinces, while 5 percent but not exceeding P4 billion will be allocated to burley and native tobacco producing provinces,” said Mr. Angara in a statement on Friday.

The approved proposal increases the excise tax on tobacco products to P45 in 2020 and by P5 every year until it reaches P60 per pack in 2023, then by 5% annually thereafter.

Mr. Angara said the support for tobacco farmers can be in the form of farm inputs, trainings, safety nets, infrastructure, livelihood and agri-industrial projects.

Mahirap din naman po ang kalagayan ng mga kababayan nating tobacco farmers. Mula raw po nang ipinatupad ang sin tax law noong 2013, mahigit 20 milyong kilo ng tobacco ang ibinaba sa produksyon (Our tobacco farmers are in a difficult state. They say that since the sin tax law was implemented in 2013, tobacco production has gone down by 20 million kilos),” Mr. Angara said.

The additional sin tax collections on tobacco and alcohol products are intended to help finance the rollout of Republic Act No. 11223, or the Universal Health Care Act (UHC), which is expected to have a P63-billion funding gap in its first year of implementation. Vince Angelo C. Ferreras