MANILA, Philippines – Various health groups have expressed their support for the sin tax reform bill version of Sen. Franklin Drilon seeking a two-tier taxation system for tobacco products.
The tax will shift to a unitary tax structure the next year.
“A unitary structure in taxing cigarettes is a definite milestone. Not only will it make taxation simpler and much easier to monitor and implement, but it also removes the option for smokers to shift to cheaper brands just to maintain the habit,” said Health Justice Philippines managing director Irene Reyes.
Reyes said Drilon’s bill is a “step closer” to achieving the country’s health goals.
“The only thing this bill needs is a provision for earmarking a portion of the revenue for health promotion,” she said.
Drilon’s proposal of the sin tax bill seeks to raise tax revenues from tobacco and alcohol to P40 billion to P45 billion, much higher than the P15 billion recommended by Sen. Ralph Recto in his report of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, said they consider Drilon’s bill as a “victory.”
“Having a unitary tax system for cigarettes is a good start, which paves the way for better health policies. This scheme will prevent smokers from downshifting to less expensive brands, thus assuring the reduction of smoking prevalence rates in the country,” he said.
Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said Drilon’s measure is “comparable” to the proposed bill of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that sought to raise tobacco taxes to P60 billion.