President Duterte listens to public clamor for high tobacco tax increase

Bangkok, 9 January 2019: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance welcomes the certification of Senate Bill (SB) 1599 as an urgent measure by Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Sponsored by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, SB 1599 proposes to increase the cigarette tax to Php 60 per pack from the current rate of Php 35 per pack with an annual increase of nine percent thereafter.

If passed, it is expected to save at least one million Filipinos from the harms caused by tobacco use. It will also ensure the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Bill, which had already been ratified by Congress and will soon pass into law. In mid-2018, President Duterte had also certified the UHC bill as urgent.

“A tax rate of 90 pesos per pack as proposed by Sen. JV Ejercito would be preferable, but President Duterte’s endorsement of SB 1599 is a welcome development for the health of the Filipino people. It’s a strong signal to Congress to prioritize the passage of a tobacco tax increase that is high enough to prevent youths from smoking. It also exposes the weakness of the 2.50-pesos per pack tax increase approved by the House of Representatives in early December 2018 and recognizes that this higher tax rate will not be harmful to tobacco farmers and will not cause more illicit trade,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA’s Executive Director.

Last November 2018, a Pulse Asia survey showed that two out of three Filipinos favor a tobacco tax increase and will choose to vote for electoral candidates that support higher tobacco taxes. “Given this strong public support, which is acknowledged by President Duterte’s endorsement, we urge Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair and UHC Bill author Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara to hold hearings on this proposal as soon as possible and ensure its swift passage,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo.

According to the Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey, there were 16 million adult tobacco smokers in 2015, and every hour 17 Filipinos die from tobacco-caused diseases.

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

Related Links:

  • Duterte agrees to certify bill on higher cigarette, alcohol tax as urgent – 


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.


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