Riley noted the downgrading by tobacco consumers this year following the approval of the sin tax bill which resulted in higher taxes and cigarette prices.

He raised fears about the continued viability of one of PMFTC s factories, which would affect its over 1,000 employees.

PMFTC has lost revenue in favor of Bulacan based cigarette company Mighty which is selling its cigarettes at P1 per stick or P16 per pack.

To stay alive in the highly competitive industry, PMFTC is willing to significantly cut its margins by introducing new Marlboro products with net retail selling prices of below P11.50/pack, Riley said.

With these new products, PMFTC hopes to boost its volumes by an additional 8.9 billion sticks in 2014, which in turn, can help the government collect more revenues from the industry.

Riley, however, pointed out that the company is keeping its original Marlboro products in the premium category and that its flagship brand, Philip Morris, will not sell at lower price points.

If PMFTC s request is granted, the new Marlboro brands will directly compete with other low price brands like Champion, Fortune and Jackpot.

Marlboro s market share decreased by 5.9 points to 15.3 percent while the share of low price Fortune declined by 22.6 points to 27.5 percent.

Under the sin tax law, excise taxes will increase every year over the medium term.

The total Philippine tobacco industry volume of 23 billion units is seen to have decreased by 6.7 percent due to the proliferation of counterfeits, which is eating into its market share.

The Philippines is one of the key markets for Philip Morris as it contributed 22 percent to the company s shipments to Asia last year.

PMI said it expects industry cigarette volumes in the Philippines to contract by 0.4 percentage points.

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