DepEd supports tobacco tax hike

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

February 7, 2019, 8:29 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it supports the tobacco excise tax hike bill, stressing that the measure will strengthen its efforts in protecting learners from getting into smoking.

“[The] Increase in tobacco tax will lead to higher prices of cigarettes, making them less affordable and less available especially for the youth,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a statement.

Briones was reacting to the call of health advocates for President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent Senate Bill 1599, which aims to increase the tax on tobacco to PHP60 per pack to curb smoking prevalence among Filipinos and generate funds for the Universal Health Care program.

“In school, we teach our learners to reject tobacco use. But education alone is not enough. Outside the school, we need policies that will help reinforce our learners’ health-promoting choices, complementing what we teach them in school,” she added.

She cited that through DepEd Order Number 48, series of 2016, aims to educate learners, teachers, and non-teaching personnel on the hazards of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke; adverse socio-economic and environmental consequences of tobacco production and consumption; tobacco control policies; and the tactics of the tobacco industry to circumvent tobacco control measures, glamorize smoking, and downplay or deny the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco products.

“If we succeed in preventing our learners from smoking, perhaps until they graduate from Grade 12, there are high chances that they will never smoke in their lifetime,” she said.

Briones cited a comparison of the National Nutrition Surveys by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology in 2008, 2013, and 2015.

The surveys revealed the relative reduction in smoking prevalence among those below 20 years old when the implementation of the Sin Tax Law led to significant increase in the tax and prices of cigarettes.

"Increasing the prices of tobacco products through taxation has been proven successful in preventing young people from smoking and lifelong addiction. In the Philippines, tobacco tax was most effective in reducing smoking among the younger age groups," the DepEd statement read. (PNA)