House backtracks, vape products to be taxed higher

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(FILE PHOTO) House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Salceda says the provision which includes e-cigarettes in the sin tax measure will be retained after all, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that vaping devices can still be used at home.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) – Vape products will still be included in the sin tax measure and will even be taxed higher to make them “more prohibitive,” the House Ways and Means Committee chair clarified Thursday.

Panel chair Joey Salceda of Albay 2nd District said that the provision which includes e-cigarettes in the sin tax measure will be retained after all, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that vaping devices can still be used at home.

“We will retain it, [but] given the logic of the initial reported ban–precautionary principle–we might go for a higher rate [from] ₱25 per milliliter (mL) to ₱45 per mL,” Salceda said.

“Effectively, we are making it more prohibitive,” he noted.

“Taxation is not an instrument for banning, we just make it more primitive to reduce its consumption. So, whether you do it at home or anywhere, you will pay ₱45 per mL,” the Albay lawmaker added.

Salceda was referring to House Bill (HB) 1026 which included the taxation of heated tobacco and vapor products in the country. The measure seeks to amend Republic Act 8424 or the “National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.”

Under the measure, nicotine salts will have an excise tax of ₱30 per mL in 2020, with an incremental increase of ₱5 thereafter until 2023. It will be enlarged by five percent every year effective 2024.

HB 1026 also states that selling heated tobacco products and vapor products at prices lower than the combined excise and value-added tax required by the law shall be prohibited.

On Wednesday, Salceda initially said that the ways and means panel will repeal the provision imposing tax on e-cigarettes following the order of the President to ban its use and importation nationwide.

READ: House to drop vape tax following Duterte’s order

However, Duterte clarified in a speech during the 80th anniversary of the Department of National Defense that “the safest way” to use vape is to do it at home instead.

“But if you are not that stupid, when you do that, you contaminate all including your children in the family,” he noted.

Duterte earlier ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to start its nationwide crackdown on vape products.

PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said that Duterte’s order expands the definition of smoking, as stated in Executive Order 26 titled “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places.”

READ: PNP starts crackdown on vape

CNN Philippines Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.