MANILA -- Members of the House of Representatives gave a cold shoulder on the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) to increase the tax on cigarettes.

Representative Simeon Datumanong (second district, Maguindanao) said he is against any imposition of new taxes, likely by 400 percent, since these would only add to the suffering of the Filipino people.

Representative Patricio Antonio (Agbiag party-list) added that the increase on cigarette will affect the livelihood of thousands of tobacco farmers in the Ilocos region who rely on the tobacco industry as their main source of livelihood.

“They could probably shift to a low price brand or just go back to the traditional rolling of cigarette which has been a practice in many parts of the country," said Antonio, adding that the increase in taxes will not ensure that Filipino smokers will quit smoking.

Representative Jeci Lapus (third district, Tarlac) also echoed the same sentiment that making cigarettes expensive will not discourage people from smoking.

"To discourage smoking, advocates should present the result of studies on the ill effects of smoking on the environment and health," Lapus said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)