New tobacco tax increases will protect and promote health of all Filipinos

Manila/Bangkok, 26 July 2019: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) warmly welcomes Republic Act (RA) 11346 or the Tobacco Tax Law 2019, which will protect Filipinos from tobacco health harms and help fund implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act signed into law earlier this year.

RA 11346 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on 25 July 2019 to address the urgent need to protect the right to health of Filipinos and to support the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act. RA 11346 will increase excise taxes on cigarettes to Php 45 per pack by 1 January 2020 followed by 5-peso increases annually until 2023 (Php 50 per pack by 2021, Php 55 per pack by 2022, and Php 60 per pack by 2023) and 5% annually thereafter. The current tax rate is Php 35 per pack.

“This is a clear win for the health of all Filipinos that builds on the internationally cited sin tax reforms passed in 2012 that significantly reduced smoking among the youth and the poor, while generating revenues that finance national health insurance of poor families. These new tax increases will not only continue to discourage tobacco use and save lives but will also raise much needed revenues for implementation of the UHC law,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA.

SEATCA also expressed support for further tax increases being proposed by the Department of Finance and Department of Health for heated tobacco products (HTPs) and e-cigarettes, which will be taxed beginning January 1, 2020 at a rate of Php 10 per pack of HTPs and Php 10 per 10 ml of e-liquid.

“We should apply the lessons learned from the current tobacco epidemic that claims over 8 million lives globally every year. Heated tobacco products contain tobacco, and e-cigarette emissions contain nicotine and various other toxins. These addictive and toxic products should be taxed at the same level as cigarettes, particularly to prevent uptake by youths,” said Dorotheo.

In the Philippines, more than 117,000 people are killed annually by tobacco-related diseases, while tobacco use burdens the national economy with Php 210 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually. More than 16 million Filipino adults still smoke, and among Filipino youth, 20.5 percent of boys and 9.1 percent of girls currently smoke.

Under the global tobacco control treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), 181 Parties including the Philippines have committed to regularly raising tobacco taxes to make tobacco products less affordable over time, as this is one of the most potent and cost-effective measures to reduce tobacco use and save lives.


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.