Health group pushes for at least 60% tobacco tax increase

HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, urges legislators to increase tobacco tax by at least 60 percent in 2018, and at least 9 percent increase yearly afterwards.

“Together with our partners in the Sin Tax Coalition, we are urgently calling for at least 60 percent increase in tobacco tax by 2018, and an increase of at least 9 percent annually thereafter. We call on our legislators to seriously consider including tobacco tax in the Tobacco Tax Reform for Acceleration to Inclusion or TRAIN package during the period of amendments,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.

The Senate is set to deliberate on the proposed amendments to the budget bill for 2018 and the TRAIN package within the week.

“To our legislators, please think of the 200,000 more Filipinos who will fall prey to smoking every year if we fail to increase the tobacco tax by at least 60 percent in 2018, and by at least 9 percent yearly thereafter. There is no more time to waste. Lives are on the line. Fight for the health and save the lives of the very people you have sworn to serve. Prove that in your chamber, public health is paramount and cannot be defeated by the selfish, vested interests of the tobacco industry,” Fernandez Mendoza said.

The Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012 or RA 10351 pegged the yearly increase of tobacco tax at 4 percent, a rate which economists have repeatedly pointed out will not be sufficient to discourage tobacco consumption because of inflation.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, said that increasing tobacco tax  “is one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways to reduce consumption of products that kill, while also generating substantial revenue.”

Tobacco consumption is considered the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, killing six million people annually. In the Philippines, 240 people die every day due to smoking-related diseases.

Tobacco use set the Philippine economy aback by PHP 204.40 billion in 2015. Per the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), excise tax collection in 2016 amounted to PHP 163.5 billion.

HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and advocates working towards reducing the global burden of noncommunicable diseases.

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