Solons asked: Reduce tax on vapes to reduce smoking

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    LAWMAKERS have been asked by the country’s largest tobacco firm to lower taxes on e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to give an estimated 15 million Filipino smokers the option to switch to these products.

    Patrick Muttart, external affairs and communications director of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp., said this suggestion is backed by research showing that nearly 60 percent of Filipino smokers intend to switch from cigarettes to vapes, like the firm’s flagship called iQos.

    During a Senate hearing recently, Muttart said “there are already more than 225,000 users of smoke-free products,” adding lowering taxes on cigarette alternatives will “encourage them to quit.”

    “We believe this is wholly consistent with the principle behind ‘sin taxes and past practice in this country,” he said.

    He also noted that smoke-free products can help secure the future of the local tobacco industry which, according to the Philippine Tobacco Administration, supports two million Filipinos.

    “Philippine tobacco leaf is already being used in some smoke-free products, and we believe there’s significant potential for the country to become a leading supplier of leaf for smoke-free products,” he said.

    By switching to smoke-free alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, smokers fundamentally change their risk profile, according to Muttart. He cited the Public Health England statement that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than cigarettes. He also mentioned the recent decision of the US Food and Drug Administration, after reviewing almost 2 million pages of evidence and examining Philip Morris processes and facilities, to authorize the sale of IQOS in the United States, stating that this is “appropriate for the protection of public health.”

    IQOS is the Philip Morris heated tobacco system. At the heart of IQOS are sophisticated electronics that heat specially designed heated tobacco units. IQOS heats the tobacco just enough to release a flavorful nicotine-containing tobacco vapor but without burning the tobacco.

    The FDA noted that IQOS produces fewer or lower levels of some toxins than combustible cigarettes. In particular, the agency stated that “the carbon monoxide exposure from IQOS aerosol is comparable to environmental exposure, and levels of acrolein and formaldehyde are 89% to 95% and 66% to 91% lower than from combustible cigarettes, respectively.”