Finance dept prods lawmakers on higher tobacco 'sin tax'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2018 11:12 AM

Finance dept prods lawmakers on higher tobacco 'sin tax' 1
A no smoking area at a pastry shop in Mandaluyong City. The Department of Finance is pushing for higher tobacco taxes to help curb smoking. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- The Department of Finance said Tuesday it would push for the passage of a bill that will raise excise tax rates on tobacco to help curb smoking, especially among the youth.

The House Ways and Means Committee last month approved a consolidated bill that seeks to raise the excise tax to P37.50 per pack from P35 from July 2019. Under the bill, the tax will be raised to P40 in 2020, P42.50 in July 2021, and P45 in July 2022, with a 4-percent annual increase thereafter, the DOF said.

The DOF proposal "supports" a bill filed by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan that seeks to raise the excise tax on tobacco to P60 per pack by 2019, with a 9-percent annual increase thereafter, according to the statement.

"There's still the Senate. We will try our best. This thing doesn't end until the President signs it. We're there, we're keeping at it. We hope that they will come up to what is good for the country," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

"The society has to agree with what is more important: enough money for healthcare or favoring companies that produce products that damage health? That's what society has to agree on, and that's what the representatives in the legislature are supposed to reflect,” he said.

Since the passage of so-called "sin taxes," fewer teenagers are picking up smoking and the total number of smokers has dropped by "roughly a million" per year.