Social Watch PH seeks unitary hike of tobacco sin tax at maximum level

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A diehard smoker takes a puff in InterAksyon file photo. Anti-tobacco groups are seeking a hike in the sin tax as part of the package of tax reforms pending in Congress.

MANILA – Social Watch Philippines urged the Philippine Senate on Wednesday to approve legislation for a unitary increase of tobacco sin tax at the maximum level. This, said SWP, should be a deliberate action to curb smoking especially among the youth, decrease health-related diseases and death from smoking, and increase revenue collection for Universal Health Care and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programs.

A unitary increase of tobacco sin tax at the maximum level will save more lives and significantly reduce smoking prevalence from 22.7% in 2015 to a range of 19.8% and 16.6%, a level comparable to Singapore which has the lowest smoking prevalence in the ASEAN.

Gani Serrano, SWP co-convenor, sees a huge impact from increasing tobacco sin tax on the price-sensitive population such as the poor urban dwellers, poor farmers and rural folks, elderly and youth. ‘Rather than buy a pack of cigarette at P100.00 a day, they now have savings to buy two more kilos of rice or other basic family needs’, he added.

SWP, a network of civil society organizations pushing for financing for development, praised Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. JV Ejercito for their initiative in filing Senate bills 1599 and 1605 which raise the tobacco sin tax to P60 and P90, respectively.

“We pray that other senators will follow suit and take into account the health and welfare of their constituencies and the number of lives that they will be able to save from tobacco smoking,” Serrano said.