MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' Departments of Finance and Health was recognized in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control, which celebrated achievements in tobacco control around the world.
The DOF and DOH were credited for fighting the global tobacco epidemic by raising tobacco taxes in the country.
At the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, Michael R. Bloomberg announced the Philippines as one of six honorees in the fight against the global tobacco epidemic under its MPOWER method, considered the most effective means of demand-reduction tobacco control.
Bloomberg Philanthropies recognized the Philippines under the “R” category of its MPOWER awards, "Raising taxes on tobacco," where the DOF and DOH were cited for their instrumental role in the passage of the 2012 Sin Tax Law.
Bloomberg Philanthropies noted how this law "greatly simplified the tax system, introduced higher excise rates, and indexed the tax rate to an inflation proxy of 4 percent annually after 2017… despite strong opposition from and interference by the tobacco industry."
Finance Undersecretary Jeremias N. Paul, Jr. accepted the award, citing President Benigno Aquino's, "political will to counter vested interests and strong lobbies to achieve what is best for the country's health and future."
The sin tax reform has generated an additional P102 billion in its first two years of implementation, with 80 percent coming from tobacco taxes. The funds have gone to the country's universal health care and health infrastructure programs.
For the first time in three decades, the Philippines' adult smoking prevalence has declined below the 30 percent level according to a study by Dr. Antonio Dans using data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute's National Nutrition Health Survey (FNRI).
He noted adult smoking prevalence declined from 31% in 2008 to 25.4% in 2013.