Sin tax bill affecting vendors and DLSU smokers
|February 27, 2013||By Marguit Tolentino and Carina Cruz under Headlines, University|
The recent implementation of Republic Act No. 10351, also known as the sin tax reform bill which increases taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, has started affecting users as well as vendors.
In an informal survey conducted by The LaSallian, 10 percent of the population has stopped smoking while 36 percent said that they started to purchase fewer cigarettes since the implementation of the bill. The same number, however, also said that their cigarette intake has not changed.
Despite the price hike, a number of students believe that cigarettes are still affordable, while some argue that they have started to reallocate and re-evaluate their spending.
On handling business
Several vendors and proprietors selling cigarettes claim that their sales have been low ever since the implementation of the sin tax bill.
Joann Ramirez, a cigarette vendor at Agno, narrates that although customers continue to buy cigarettes, the prices have started to affect their consumption. Because of the price increase, customers resort to buying per stick instead of cigarettes per pack, even if the price of the former has increased from P2 to P3.50.
Ramirez explains that in some cases, customers opt to leave their supposed 50-cent change to aid the vendors. Ramirez explains that because of this system, they do not go out of business.
Ramirez, however, confides, “Konti na nga lang tinutubo eh, pero hindi naman kami nalulugi (We have little income, but we don’t go out of business.)” Moreover, he acknowledges that they also earn from other merchandise and products sold in her store such as food and school supplies.
Eric Abil, owner of “Eric’s” located in between several eating areas in Castro St., Taft Avenue, near One Archer’s Place, says that before the bill was implemented, he sold 100 sticks of cigarettes a day. After the bill was implemented, his sales went down by as much as 50 percent. To sell more cigarettes, the store is trying to lower the prices of cigarettes.
Abil also confirms that they still have other sources of income. He says that their store does not go out of business because it does not solely depend on cigarette sales; it also has an eating area.
Not that affected
On the other hand, other stalls near the campus argue that the bill has not affected their sales. Donna Sandigio, a vendor at Sherwood, claims that her sales have not changed, as 50-100 customers a day still purchase from her stall. She also adds that the prices have changed little, and explains that her store only increased the price of Marlboro Black, a cigarette brand, from three pesos to four pesos.
She argues that her stall sells cigarettes at a lower price in comparison to the prices of cigarettes in other stalls or stores. In addition, more customers (most of them students) purchase packs of cigarettes from her stall on Thursday nights, usually celebrating the last day of the week.
Ronnie Ramos, a vendor at a stall near the Enrique Razon Sports Complex adds that they have not gone out of business despite the prices increase. He claims that a small number of customers have started buying less.
The sin tax bill was passed as a means to improve the health of Filipinos by increasing the prices of liquor and cigarettes. The bill is founded on the idea that higher prices would discourage people from buying and consuming more alcohol and tobacco products.
While the implementation of the tax has received much support from the public, many have expressed concern over the spending plans of the government. According to the bill, revenue from the tax would be allocated to farmers and the Department of Health (DOH) programs.
David San Juan, a professor from the Filipino department believes that the government should start “crafting a comprehensive employment program” to help vendors and other workers in the tobacco industry avoid possible bankruptcy. Moreover, he adds that the government should consider giving those affected alternative employment and business opportunities.
The Sin Tax Law has been in effect since January 1, 2013 with many cigarette vendors already abiding by it.