Philippines: Anti-smoking advocates see higher sin tax as key vs TB

23 March 2019
Sun Star

ANTI-SMOKING advocates renewed on Friday, March 22, their call for higher tax rates for cigarettes saying it would be beneficial in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in the Philippines.

In a statement for the World Tuberculosis Day, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Philippines Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin urged lawmakers to do their part in fighting TB by approving a higher tobacco tax rate. 

“Increasing the taxes on tobacco products will tremendously help in the implementation of the current strategies for a TB-free Philippines and will promote better health for Filipinos,” said Limpin.

She noted how having more costly cigarette products will help dissuade smokers from continuing their vices while avoiding new smokers.

“Raising the tax on cigarettes to at least P60 per pack will discourage vulnerable sectors, such as the young and the poor, from smoking and prevent more Filipinos at risk from developing TB. In effect, we can kill the epidemic at its source,” Limpin said.

In addition, the public health advocacy head of the Philippine College of Physicians said having higher sin tax will help finance the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

“The tax increase will generate funds to help augment the budget of the Department of Health, and lend extra support in the efforts to provide potentially better outcome in the country’s initiatives to end TB,” said Limpin.

TB is a disease caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis, and spreads through the air when a person with TB coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Studies show that smoking greatly increases the risk of contracting TB.

In the Philippines, 581,000 people develop TB every year, with 60 people dying every day.