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Excise Dept shifts to hike tax on loose tobacco, open to vaping imports

BANGKOK: The Excise Department will raise the tobacco tax after smokers switched to hand-rolled cigarettes, prices for which are far cheaper than factory-made cigarettes following enforcement of a new excise tax structure last year.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 8 November 2018, 09:33AM

The Excise Department plans to increase the tax on loose tobacco after smokers changed to hand-rolled cigarettes because of the cheaper price. Photo: Bangkok Post

The Excise Department plans to increase the tax on loose tobacco after smokers changed to hand-rolled cigarettes because of the cheaper price. Photo: Bangkok Post

Loose tobacco now costs B5-30 per pouch, well below the price of cigarettes at B60-100 per pack, said Patchara Anuntasilpa, director-general of the Excise Department.

The retail price gap will widen from Jan 1, 2019, after a 40% tax is applied across the board, he said.

For tobacco, it is taxed B0.005 per gramme. Mr Patchara said the low rate tax for loose tobacco is because it is considered mostly a product for the poor.

“After the new excise tax structure came into force, some smokers shifted from cigarettes to loose tobacco because it is cheaper, so it is necessary to even out the levies,” he said.

Even though the new tax will raise the retail cigarette price, the department plans to impose the new rate as scheduled, said Mr Patchara.

He said the department also wants to supervise the standards for some products unregulated by authorities, prohibiting manufacturers from adding toxic ingredients. These products comprise cigarettes, loose tobacco, liquor and beer, with one example banning liquor producers from adding methyl alcohol.

The department has a mandate to supervise these products' standards and it is setting up a unit to take charge of the issue, said Mr Patchara.

He said the department stands ready to impose a tax on vaping if the Commerce and Public Health ministries can agree on product imports.

Importing and distributing e-cigarettes remains illegal in Thailand, though several countries such as Japan, South Korea, the UK, and some states in the US do not ban vaping.


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