Philippines: DOH seeks P60 hike in tobacco taxes

5 May 2019
Sheila Crisostomo

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday pushed anew for an increase in tobacco taxes to P60 per pack of cigarette, citing a survey that showed three in four Filipinos agreed that there should be higher taxes on tobacco products.  

Duque said there is a need to hike taxes on cigarettes to at least P60 per pack to make smoking tobacco products less affordable and less accessible to the youth.

“We are very happy with the recent results of the Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan survey, showing increased public support for our proposed reform. Three out of four Filipinos agree that tobacco taxes should be raised,” said Duque in a statement.

He was referring to the Pulse Asia survey conducted last March that showed higher public approval for increasing tobacco taxes, with 75 percent of Filipinos now supporting the increase in tobacco taxes. 

Duque noted this is higher compared to the results of the same survey conducted last September 2018 wherein 67 percent of Filipinos agreed.

According to him, this shows that “more and more people are joining our call to save the lives of the people from the harms of tobacco use.”

“Even among current tobacco smokers whom we expect to oppose the proposed measure, more than half of them (54 percent) supports the increase in tobacco taxes,” he added.

However, the survey also showed that current number of tobacco smokers is now at 24 percent, marginally higher compared to the 23 percent smoking prevalence reported in the September 2018 survey, and close to the 22.7 percent current tobacco smokers recorded in the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).

Duque said that based on the smoking prevalence data from different systematically conducted and nationally representative surveys such as the GATS, National Nutrition Survey, Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, the smoking prevalence has already plateaued at around 23-24 percent.

“The Sin Tax Law of 2012 has been very effective in decreasing the number of smokers in the country,” he added.

Philstar Global