There are few cigarette markets that Philip Morris International owns a greater share of than the Philippines, where it owned nearly three-quarters of the total in 2015. Of the island's 93 million people, some 17 million adults, or 28% of the population, smoke.
The tobacco giant only ships more cigarettes to Indonesia and Russia than it does to the Philippines, and only in Argentina do its cigarettes have a greater share of the market. So it's hard to underestimate the importance the Philippines plays in Philip Morris's operations, that is why the plan by President Rodrigo Duterte to ban smoking in all public places represents a big risk to the cigarette maker.
Hunting for smokers with the same zeal as in Davao
Similar to the ban he imposed on smoking when he was mayor of Davao, where a violator could be fined $100 or four months in jail for breaking the law, Duterte's new national anti-smoking rules would expand the definition of what a public place is -- extending it to parks, buses, and other public vehicles. Any designated smoking area would also have to be at least 33 feet away from a building, while indoor zones would be eliminated. Moreover, the ban will also include electronic cigarettes and personal vaping devices.
Since his election, Duterte is proving himself to be something of a loose cannon, but this we now already.