Increase tobacco tax to stop cancer, fund Universal Health Care, and save lives

Manila, 12 October 2018: The Philippine government should increase tobacco taxes to further reduce consumption, stop cancer, and raise much-needed revenues to fund Universal Health Care (UHC), considered a priority of President Duterte to improve and protect the health of all Filipinos.

Together with more than 130 members of the Philippine Sin Tax Coalition, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) sent a signed petition letter last 9 October 2018 to Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair and UHC Bill author Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara urging him to hold hearings on the tobacco tax proposals as soon as possible.

Health and economic experts agree that the substantial public health gains of the sin tax reforms instituted in 2012 are being eroded by inflation and economic growth. To sustain the reduction in tobacco use and sufficiently fund UHC, the Sin Tax Coalition supports Senate Health Committee Chair Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito’s Senate Bill 1605, seeking to increase the tobacco excise tax rate to Php 90 per pack followed by an annual increase of 9%.

“Cigarettes are affordable even to youths. High tobacco taxes, considered a best-buy intervention by the World Heath Organization (WHO), are a win-win because they bring in revenues that can finance UHC, while also discouraging smoking and preventing tobacco-caused diseases, thereby saving lives and even more money,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA’s Executive Director.

UHC is part of Pres. Duterte’s Philippine Health Agenda (2016-2022) – “All for health towards health for all”. One of its three goals is to protect Filipinos, especially the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable, from the high costs of health care. 

“Thailand’s tax-financed Universal Coverage Scheme introduced in 2001 gave Thai citizens universal access to essential health services at zero cost and reaped major benefits as citizens got healthier, workers increased productivity, and households reduced financial risks. We have an opportunity to replicate this in the Philippines, if only Sen. Angara would prioritize tobacco taxation” remarked Dr. Dorotheo.



Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
Email: | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##

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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.