Bill seeks to compel cigarette firms to use 75% local tobacco

A senior lawmaker has filed a bill requiring cigar and cigarette manufacturers to use at least 75 percent of locally-grown tobacco in the manufacture of cigarettes in the country to help the economy grow.

Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Owen Singson Jr., author of House Bill 170, said in the past five years, cigarette manufacturers have reduced considerably the use of locally-produced tobacco and shifted to the use of imported tobacco as raw materials in the manufacture of their cigarettes.

He said for more than 30 years in the past, tobacco farmers in the North have enjoyed a certain level of economic stability and prosperity, giving them the opportunity to improve their standard of living that enabled them to send their children to school.

“Education is the key to the solution of poverty in the countryside because this equips children with the necessary qualifications for gainful employment and with the skills and talents to succeed in their chosen fields of endeavor,” Singson said.

He said many farmers could no longer sell their tobacco and eventually went bankrupt due to the decline of the tobacco industry that has brought untold hardships to Filipino farmers in the North.

“The tobacco industry is a regulated industry and there is no reason why we should not impose certain regulations to protect our own local farmers like what they did in Malaysia by enacting a law similar to what is being proposed by this representation,” Singson said.

Under the measure, the National Tobacco Administration is directed to formulate the implementing rules and regulations and shall establish a performance monitoring system to ensure compliance.

Violators face a fine of P10 million to P50 million and closure of the establishment.

source: philstar.com

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