AN ANTI-smoking group urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Sunday to look into the possibility that cheaper brands of cigarette products will soon be introduced in the market.

In a statement, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas said it is imperative for the DTI to assess if the entry of cheaper brands would effectively undo any gains made by the Sin Tax Law’s passage in January 2013.

The DTI heads the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco) that regulates the industry.

Section 2 of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 states that the government shall “institute a balanced policy whereby the use, sale, and advertisements of tobacco products shall be regulated in order to promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens from the hazards of tobacco smoke."

Earlier, reports came out that some tobacco manufacturers are already looking to produce cheaper cigarettes that would be sold at P2 per stick, which is one peso lower than other brands.

Rojas said that having cheaper brands of cigarette products will only give the public a window to splurge on their smoking vice without the worry of spending much.

“It is Sin Tax Law’s goal to make cigarette products inaccessible to the people, especially to the poor and the youth. How can having cheaper brands prove to be helpful to the people’s health?” said Rojas.

“We are worried that having a legal way to sell cheaper cigarette will render the health objectives of the sin tax law almost useless,” he added.

Aside from making cigarettes accessible to the public anew, Rojas also warned of higher government expenses to cure those who will develop smoking-related illnesses.

“Allowing more to smoke will be counterproductive since more can develop diseases from smoking and more will need to get treatment that will be shouldered by the government,” said Rojas, a cancer survivor.

‪Rojas said it would be better if such funds will be utilized to inform people of the dangers of cigarette smoking. (HDT/Sunnex)