Saturday, September 22, 2018

DOH backs higher excise tax on tobacco

THE Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, August 15, expressed support for the proposal to increase the excise tax on tobacco to P90 per pack, saying this would boost public health and the country's revenue collections.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the plan to impose a P90 excise tax on tobacco products would be a "win-win" solution.

"We are looking at the proposed increase in tobacco tax. The DOH is currently supporting the proposal of increasing tobacco excixe tax at P90 per pack," he told Palace reporters in a weekly economic briefing.

"The proposed increase in tobacco taxes is a win-win for the health of Filipinos," the Health chief added.

Under Senate Bill 1605 authored by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, the excise tax on cigarettes will rise to P90 per pack from the current excise rate of P32.50 per pack.

The excise duties on tobacco products increased to P32.50 in 2018 following the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Act.

Duque was amenable to Ejercito's proposal, noting that this would increase and lower the smoking rate. By July 1 of this syear, the levies on tobacco products will further raise to P35.

"At this rate, we estimate an incremental increase in revenues of roughly about P37.2 billion. This will be used to augment the budget from General Appropriations Act for funding of UHC (Universal Health Care), particularly to cover the premium paymennts of the non-contributory sector," he said.

"Not only will it increase the funding to finance UHC. Tobacco taxes are also estimated to reduce, and I repeat, to reduce smoking prevalence. This will bring smoking prevalence down to 15.7 percent from 21.6 percent, according to the Global Adult Tobacco survey of 2015," he said.

Smoking has become costlier in the country, especially after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 26 on May 16, 2017, mandating a "smoke-free" environments in public and enclosed spaces.

Despite Duterte's EO, many smokers have continued to defy the smoking ban in public places. Duque said the DOH has yet to conduct a monitoring and impact assessment of nationwide smoking ban.

"Ang mga local government units, sila ang mag-iimplement, mag-papatupad nitong EO ni Pangulong Duterte," Duque said.

(The local government units should be the ones to implement President Duterte's EO.)

"At kami, uumpisahan pa lang natin ang monitoring and impact assessment kung ano na ba talaga ang nangyari. Pero sa ngayon kasi, hindi ko naman napaghandaan so wala akong datos na magpapakita kung epektibo ba ang EO na ito in terms of implementation," he added.

(We will begin our monitoring and impact assessment of what happened. But as of now, we have not prepared any data which will show if the EO is effective, in terms of implementation.) (SunStar Philippines)