Health group counts on DoF to push for higher tobacco tax

(Manila, Philippines, January 27, 2018) HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise on tobacco control and health promotion, is upbeat on the prospect of tobacco tax increase this year following Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’s announcement that the Department of Finance (DoF)’s proposed tax package will include higher tobacco tax.

“Finance Secretary Dominguez’s pronouncement that their proposed tax package will include tobacco tax increase is a very positive development. We are relying on them to follow through on their commitment and actively push for tobacco tax increase in Congress. We recommend that their proposed tobacco tax increase be at least P60 per pack in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the Philippines,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.

Last January 22, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III announced in his speech before the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) that the department he heads is set to submit to the House of Representatives a tax reform bill dubbed as “package two plus”, part of which is the tobacco tax increase.

On the senators proposing to raise tobacco taxes, Dominguez remarked that “we will help them with it.”

“One wants to bring it up to P60, the other one wants to bring it up to P90. [W]e will discuss it with them,” Dominguez said.

“As signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), Philippines recognizes that price and tax measures are effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption, and commits to implement tax policies that can effectively contribute to achieving our health objectives such as curbing the prevalence rate of smoking,” Fernandez Mendoza added.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act of 2017, which Duterte signed into law on December 19, 2017, increased the tobacco tax by only P2.50 per cigarette pack.

240 Filipinos die every day due to smoking-related diseases. In May 2017, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 26, which banned smoking in certain public places nationwide.

HealthJustice Philippines in a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of organizations, experts and advocates working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.

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Download press release here.


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