Health group calls for 60% tobacco tax hike

November 22, 2017, 11:34 am

MANILA -- HealthJustice Philippines has urged legislators to increase the tax imposed on tobacco products by at least 60 percent in 2018, and at least 9 percent every year afterwards. 

“We call on our legislators to seriously consider including tobacco tax in the Tobacco Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, or TRAIN, package during the period of amendments,” HealthJustice president, Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, said in a news release issued Tuesday.

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

Mendoza warned that 200,000 Filipinos would fall prey to smoking every year if the tobacco tax is not raised by at least 60 percent this year. 

The Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10351 set the yearly increase of tobacco tax at 4 percent, which, according to economists, is not enough to discourage tobacco consumption because of inflation, HealthJustice stated in the news release.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, 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”. 

According to HealthJustice, tobacco consumption is considered the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, killing six million people annually.

It said that in the Philippines, 240 people die every day, or more than 87,000 a year, due to smoking-related diseases.

HealthJustice, a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control, is a program partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and advocates working towards reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases. (HealthJustice)