President Marcos Jr. Instructs BOC to Combat Tobacco and Vape Smuggling

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Orders Crackdown on Smuggling of Tobacco and Vape Products

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has recently issued a directive to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to intensify their efforts in combating the smuggling of tobacco and vape products. This announcement came during the sixth Private Sector Advisory Council-Agriculture Sector Group (PSAC-ASG) meeting held in Malacañang on Wednesday.

During the meeting, President Marcos emphasized the importance of enforcement and anti-smuggling measures to protect the country’s tobacco industry. He urged the BOC and BIR to strengthen their operations, stating, “You really have to beef them up and I think we’re doing that.”

BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. also informed the president that the agency has already intensified its crackdown on smuggled vape products. These actions are part of a broader effort to safeguard the local tobacco industry and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Recommendations and Policy Requirements

The PSAC-ASG has put forward several recommendations and policy requirements to further protect the local tobacco industry. These proposals aim to address the challenges posed by smuggling and promote fair competition in the market.

One of the key recommendations is to task the Department of Budget and Management with releasing funds as prescribed under Republic Act 4155 for the National Tobacco Authority Sustainable Tobacco Enhancement Program. This program aims to support the sustainable growth and development of the tobacco industry.

The PSAC-ASG also called for amendments to the Anti-Agri Smuggling Act of 2016 to include tobacco products. By including tobacco products in the legislation, it will be easier to prosecute those involved in the illegal trade of tobacco.

Furthermore, the group emphasized the need for provisions on minimum retail price and penalties for distributing and selling smuggled tobacco and vape products. These measures will discourage the sale and distribution of illicit goods in the market.

In addition, the PSAC-ASG urged the Department of Trade and Industry to set a deadline for the registration of importers and manufacturers of vapor products. This will ensure that all businesses operating in the sector are properly regulated and comply with the necessary requirements.

The BIR was also called upon to impose tax requirements on tobacco and vape products. By imposing taxes on these products, the government can generate revenue while discouraging the sale and consumption of smuggled goods.

Lastly, the PSAC-ASG recommended that all operations involving tobacco and vape products be reported to the Office of the President on a monthly basis. This will provide greater transparency and allow for better monitoring of the industry.

Importance of the Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry plays a significant role in the Philippines, providing livelihood to approximately 2.2 million Filipinos. Additionally, tobacco excise tax contributes to the government’s revenue, accounting for 4 percent of the total government revenues, which amounted to P135 billion in 2023.

Given the industry’s economic and social importance, it is crucial to protect it from illegal activities such as smuggling. The efforts taken by President Marcos Jr. and the relevant government agencies demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding the tobacco industry and ensuring its sustainable growth.

By strengthening enforcement measures, implementing stricter regulations, and imposing taxes on tobacco and vape products, the government aims to create a level playing field for legitimate businesses and discourage the sale and consumption of smuggled goods.

Through these initiatives, the government seeks to uphold the rule of law, protect local industries, and promote fair competition in the market. By working together with various stakeholders, including the private sector and relevant government agencies, the Philippines can effectively combat smuggling and secure a brighter future for its tobacco industry.

Source: The Manila Times

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