Tobacco tax increase to sustain Universal Health Care law: Duque

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2019 10:43 AM

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MANILA - Increasing taxes on tobacco products would help in the long-term implementation of the newly signed Universal Health Care Act, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.

Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week, the Universal Health Care Act would need about P257 billion in its first year of implementation, said Duque. 

This would consist of money from membership contribution, budget of the Department of Health, government subsidy, and revenue from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Sin taxes, including those coming from tobacco products, would boost the government subsidy. Duque believes the Senate would soon pass a measure increasing the cigarette duties as proposed by either Senators JV Ejercito or Manny Pacquiao.

Ejercito proposed to increase to P90 each pack of cigarettes while Pacquiao proposed that cigarettes cost P60 per pack.

"Alin man sa dalawa o sa gitna nung dalawang panukala, makakabuti sa pangmatagalang implementasyon ng Universal Health Care," Duque said.

"Kinakailangan po natin ang sin taxes, hindi lang bilang revenue measure kundi po ay health measure. Wag sana nating ipagpalit 'yung dalawa pagdating sa bakit tayo nagtataas ng buwis," he told radio DZMM.

Increasing the price of cigarettes could help save lives of some 780,000 sick individuals and decrease the number of smokers by about 3.8 million within the next 4 years, he said.