MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health urged the Senate to pass the proposed sin tax measure, describing it as a win-win solution in boosting the government’s coffers.
“This is not just a sin tax. This is an anti-cancer tax,” Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization, the four major causes of deaths in the Philippines are tobacco consumption-related: cancer, heart attack, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Herbosa said the annual cost of these four is P177 billion.
“Even if the sin tax bill is approved, the government is expected to only generate an estimated P33 billion from the first year of its implementation. This is not even enough to compensate for the burden that these diseases bring to our healthcare system not to mention the precious lives lost because of our high smoking prevalence,” said Herbosa.
In 2008, 11% of deaths in the country were attributed to cancer.
He said if the government does not act on the matter, “this could become a full blown epidemic of early death for our workforce.”
He said the measure “is not just a sin tax. This is an anti-cancer tax.”
"We have a win-win solution here. By taxing tobacco we can generate revenue for universal health care. At the same time, by increasing the price of tobacco to a point where youth and children cannot afford it, we are preventing young people from taking up this deadly habit," Herbosa added.
The DOH expects that a 10% increase in tobacco tax would reduce by 2 million the number of smokers by 2016.
On the other hand, it also expected to reduce by 20 percent the number of yearly deaths due to smoking-related diseases.
The country is estimated to have 17.3 million tobacco consumers. On the average, a Filipino smoker puffs 1,073 cigarette sticks in a year.