24 groups push for uniform sin tax rate
MANILA - Groups that supported the passage of the sin tax law said concrete gains have been realized in terms of reducing the consumption of cigarettes among Filipinos.
In a joint statement released by 24 health, medical, and youth organizations, they said: “We confidently uphold our assessment that the sin tax law is proving itself to be an effective smoking reduction measure. With higher cigarette prices, long-addicted Filipino tobacco users are lessening their consumption, while would-be smokers, especially from the young and the poor, are increasingly discouraged from taking up smoking in the first place.”
The groups include the Action for Economic Reforms (AER), Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) Alliance Philippines, New Vois Association of the Philippines, Philippine College of Physicians, etc.
Quoting a report from Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul, the groups said cigarette volume removals from tobacco manufacturing plant throughout 2013 declined by 15.5 percent to 4.9 million packs from 5.8 million in 2012.
National Tobacco Administration head Edgardo Zaragoza had said: “The best indicator as to the consumption of cigarettes will be the removals, because that will be the demand side.”
The groups also took note of a survey done by the Department of Health’s National Epidemiological Center and the AER last December 2013, which found that the weekly cigarette consumption among Cotabato City smokers decreased by 34 sticks on average.
In Angono, Rizal, meanwhile, the smokers reduced their weekly consumption by an average 10 sticks.
The groups said the national trend has transcended to local demand studies.
They also noted the 2013 Youth Adult and Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS) by the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute and Demographic Research & Development Foundation, which showed that smoking prevalence among young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 years old dropped from 21.9 percent in 2002 to 19.7 percent in 2013. The study noted that this is due to higher sin taxes.
Uniform tax rates
The groups said the gains could have been greater had the tobacco industry and their political allies not lobbied against a unitary sin tax scheme. The groups had supported and will continue to support a unitary P30 tax rate.
“Our coalition now looks forward to the adoption of this unitary tax rate for tobacco products in 2017. If the evidence shows that smoking consumption has decreased last 2013, this unitary system will reap bigger gains for health, saving millions of smokers’ lives in the process,” the groups said.
They asked politicians not to reverse the health gains of the law.
“In the years to come, even greater gains from R.A. 10351 will be made available for all our countrymen: to uphold them will be a true victory for the Filipino people,” they said.