Philippines to Replace Excise Stamps with QR Codes on Tobacco Products

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    In a significant move to modernize tax and product verification systems, the Philippines plans to introduce a QR code system, phasing out the current excise stamp system on tobacco products. According to a report from BusinessMirror on June 16, 2024, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) announced this innovative plan as part of a broader strategy to include other “sin tax products” such as alcoholic beverages and sweetened drinks.

    The Shift to QR Codes

    Initial Implementation

    BIR Assistant Commissioner Jethro M. Sabaria revealed that the digital tracking system will first be implemented for tobacco products in the second half of 2025. Following this, the system will expand to other sin tax products every six months. This phased approach aims to ensure a smooth transition and thorough testing of the new system’s efficacy.

    Public-Private Partnership Model

    The QR code system will be executed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Initially, a private entity will manage the implementation, with the government taking over after the contract period ends. This model allows for efficient deployment and expertise from the private sector while ensuring long-term control and oversight by the government.

    Benefits of the QR Code System

    Enhancing Product Legitimacy

    One of the primary objectives of the QR code system is to verify the legitimacy of goods. The QR codes will serve as a digital verification tool, allowing consumers to confirm that the products they purchase are from legal and approved sources. This measure is expected to curb the sale of counterfeit and smuggled goods, which have been a persistent issue in the tobacco and alcohol markets.

    Boosting Consumer Confidence

    With the ability to verify product authenticity, consumer confidence in the reliability of purchased goods will significantly increase. As Sabaria noted, “This is a simple QR code system that can verify whether the goods you purchase come from a legal source.” Enhanced consumer trust is anticipated to drive sales and contribute to revenue growth.

    Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

    The QR code system will ensure that product manufacturers undergo BIR scrutiny before their products enter the market. This added layer of verification will help maintain high standards of compliance and quality, further protecting consumers and ensuring fair market practices.

    Impact on Revenue

    While Sabaria did not provide specific estimates on the revenue contribution of the QR code system, he expressed optimism about its potential to drive growth. Increased consumer confidence and the elimination of counterfeit products are expected to positively impact sales and, consequently, tax revenue. The system’s effectiveness in ensuring product authenticity is anticipated to lead to “further growth” in revenue.

    Current Excise Stamp System

    The current excise stamps affixed to cigarettes and e-cigarette products are a temporary measure. The contract with the stamp supplier remains in effect until the transition to the QR code system is complete. This phased implementation allows the BIR to manage the transition effectively without disrupting the existing compliance framework.

    Future Expansion

    The QR code system will be rolled out in stages, with tobacco products being the first to undergo the transition. Six months later, the system will expand to other sin tax products, including alcoholic beverages and sweetened drinks. This gradual implementation ensures that each product category receives adequate attention and resources to address any challenges that may arise.


    When will the QR code system be implemented for tobacco products?

    The QR code system will be implemented for tobacco products starting in the second half of 2025.

    What other products will the QR code system cover?

    The system will expand to include other sin tax products, such as alcoholic beverages and sweetened drinks, every six months after the initial implementation for tobacco products.

    How will the QR code system enhance consumer confidence?

    The QR code system allows consumers to verify the authenticity of products, ensuring they are purchasing goods from legal and approved sources, thus boosting their confidence in the reliability of these products.

    What is the role of the public-private partnership in this initiative?

    The public-private partnership model involves a private entity managing the initial implementation of the QR code system, with the government taking over after the contract period ends, ensuring efficient deployment and long-term oversight.

    What will happen to the current excise stamp system?

    The current excise stamps will remain in use until the QR code system is fully implemented and operational.