Philippines: DOH supports proposed tobacco tax hike

15 August 2018:

The Department of Health (DOH) is supporting the proposed increase in tobacco tax as it will help fund the Universal Health Care (UHC) once enacted into a law.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing in Malacañang, Wednesday, the DOH is eyeing at the proposed increase in tobacco tax.

“The DOH is currently supporting the proposal of increasing tobacco excise tax at P90 per pack. This rate, we estimate an incremental increase in revenues of roughly about P37.2 billion,” said Duque.

According to Duque, the increase in tobacco taxes is a “win-win” situation for the health of Filipinos because it will not only increase the funding for UHC, but it will also help in reducing the smoking prevalence in the country.

“Tobacco taxes are also estimated to reduce…this will bring smoking prevalence down to 15.7 percent from 21.6 percent according to the global adult tobacco survey of 2015, thereby translating into lower number of cases of cancer and non-communicable diseases which are the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Duque said that the increase in tobacco tax will still depend on the decision of the Congress.

The health chief said that UHC is a wise investment for the country because it is investing for the public’s health.

“Aside from the benefit of a healthier and more productive population, UHC is also a key in reducing poverty in our country by protecting Filipinos from high cost of care,” he said.

In his third state of the nation address, President Duterte urged lawmakers to swiftly pass the UHC bill.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the UHC bill in September 2017 while the Senate’s version is in the committee level.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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