Liza BUSINESS TALKS–Agriculture Secretary Francisco TIu Laurel Jr. and First Lady Luisa Araneta-Marcos led the inauguration of the P2.2B manufacturing facility of Philip Morris International and its Philippine affiliate, PMFTC, in Batangas last April 15. Department of Agriculture FB photo

PH to produce smoke-free cigarettes soon

April 16, 2024 Cory Martinez 120 views

AGRICULTURE Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel expressed optimism the production of smoke-free products could help the tobacco industry as it could reverse the decline in leaf production and boost earnings for millions of Filipino farmers dependent on the high-value crop.

In his Monday speech during the inauguration of the P2.2-billion manufacturing facility of Philip Morris International and its Philippine affiliate, PMFTC, in Batangas, Laurel thanked the US firm for fulfilling its investment pledge to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and the continued support to tobacco farmers and their families.

The new manufacturing lines, which covers around 1.2 hectares in Tanauan City, will produce specially-designed tobacco sticks for PMI’s smoke-free products.

This marks another milestone in PMI’s drive towards producing novel products and consumables in the country’s cigarette alternative category.

“I understand that local leaf is being considered for inclusion in the production of smoke-free products, including heated tobacco sticks in the new manufacturing lines. I’m confident that our local tobacco leaf will be able to meet this new demand,” Laurel said.

Laurel hopes local tobacco farmers will continue to benefit from PMI’s and PMFTC’s efforts to further strengthen domestic manufacturing, especially since they started producing finished and semi-finished goods in their manufacturing plants in Marikina and Batangas.

“Our government has always recognized PMFTC’s substantial contributions to the Philippine economy and society–providing employment to around 4,500 Filipinos; ensuring the livelihood of our tobacco farmers with their tobacco leaf purchases averaging P1.8 billion annually; boosting tobacco exports of finished and semi-finished goods; contributing hundreds of billions to the national and local treasury in excise, VAT, income, local business tax, duties and other payments; and implementing various corporate social responsibility projects,” Laurel added.

The National Tobacco Administration estimates around 2.2 million Filipinos depend on the tobacco industry, including more than 430,000 farmers, farm workers and their families.

The NTA also noted that the total volume of locally-produced tobacco only constitutes 35% percent of the leaf requirement of tobacco manufacturers.

“Considering the continuing demand for Philippine tobacco exports, the challenge is for us to work together–introduce technological advancements and internationally accepted best practices–to increase and sustain quality domestic production of tobacco leaf,” he said.

Laurel added he is aware of the growing illicit trade of tobacco that is threatening the entire tobacco industry value chain.

He vowed to help in the fight against smugglers whose illegal activities adversely affect the livelihood of farmers, legitimate businesses and investments and government revenues.