Philippines: Majority of Filipinos support stricter tobacco control laws – Pulse Asia

28 February 2019
Sofia Tomacruz

Survey results show 9 out of 10 Filipinos support increasing the minimum age for the purchase of cigarettes from 18 to 25 and prohibiting smoking in public places

MANILA, Philippines – Majority of Filipinos would support implementing stricter tobacco control laws in the county, survey results from pollster Pulse Asia showed.

A Pulse Asia survey conducted form January 26 to 31, 2019 found that 9 out of 10 Filipinos agreed to measures such as raising the minimum age for the purchase of cigarettes from 18 to 25 years old.

The same number – 9 out of 10 – agreed that smoking in public places should be prohibited. (READ: Duterte signs EO on smoking ban)

Pulse Asia research director Ana Tabunda presented these findings in a press conference with the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development and health advocates on Thursday, February 28.

Pulse Asia’s survey asked respondents whether or not they agreed to proposed measures to raise the minimum age to buy and use cigarettes, as studies showed the brain reached full maturity at 25 years old. It also mentioned that chemicals in cigarettes affected the brain.

The survey showed a majority of respondents, 90%, agreed. Of this number, 72% strongly agreed, while 3% disagreed, and 7% were undecided.

Respondents were also asked how much they agreed or disagreed with prohibiting the use of cigarettes in public spaces.

Similar to the previous question, 91% of respondents said they agreed to the measure. Among those who agreed, 74% said they strongly agreed, 4% disagreed, and 5% were undecided.

Meanwhile, among the 24% of respondents who were smokers, 8 out of 10 (80%) agreed to increase the minimum age to buy and use cigarettes, and prohibit smoking in public places.

For Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development executive director Romeo Dongeto, the results could serve as indicators for candidates of the 2019 midterm polls to propose measures that would tackle the use of cigarettes among Filipinos.

“The results of this survey show that the Filipino public is very open and receptive to essential legislative reforms that can be done as regards tobacco control….Evidence of overwhelming public support for these amendments is here,” Dongeto said.

“Despite recent strides our nation has taken to control tobacco use, we still have a long way to go,” he added.

Higher tobacco taxes

Dongeto and health advocates likewise pushed for increasing the sin taxes on tobacco products from the current P30 per pack to P60.

The Department of Health (DOH) has been pushing for the increase in tobacco taxes to reduce smoking prevalence to 15% of the population by 2022. They added the country could see some 200,000 new smokers every year the implementation of higher taboo taxes is delayed.

Apart from this, higher tobacco taxes were also eyed to provide a sustainable source of funds for the universal health care law. (READ: Cigarette prices to increase more with passage of universal health bill)

An earlier survey by Pulse Asia showed 6 out of 10 Filipinos would support candidates who will push for an increase in tobacco taxes. (READ: 64% of Filipinos will support candidates who push for higher tobacco taxes – Pulse Asia)