MANILA–Health-Justice Philippines has urged legislators to in-crease the tax imposed on tobacco products by at least 60 percent in 2018, and at least nine percent every year afterwards.
“We call on our legisla-tors 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 Men-doza, 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 per-cent 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 be-cause of inflation, HealthJustice stated in the news release.
World Health Organi-zation (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 gene-rating substantial revenue”.
According to Health-Justice, tobacco consump-tion is considered the leading cause of preven-table 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 interna-tional network of experts and advocates working towards reducing the glo-bal burden of non-commu-nicable diseases. Health-Justice/PNA