MANILA, Philippines – Tobacco taxation is a popular issue today, given the recent Sin Tax debates. Health advocates emphasize its importance, claiming that it is an effective tool in tobacco control. Coincidentally, the World Health Organization (WHO) 5th Conference of Parties which is currently taking place this week in Seoul, South Korea includes the guidelines on the implementation of tobacco tax as part of the agenda.
The basic principle behind taxing tobacco products, according to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), is that tobacco use results in massive economic losses due to health care costs and productivity loss. Taxing tobacco aims to ease this burden by reducing tobacco consumption and increasing government expenditure for treating tobacco-related diseases.
Thus, the proper tobacco tax will ensure that cigarettes will be out of reach for children. On a recent national survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations on youth smoking, respondents consisting of 1,200 teens, ages 13-17, from socio-economic classes A-E were interviewed.
Among youth smokers, majority said that cigarettes must be priced at 10 pesos per stick for them to quit.
“Results from this survey is a clear example on why we must have the passage of a strong sin tax bill now. Clearly, price is a factor for the youth when it comes to smoking. When cigarettes are no longer affordable, then youth smokers will be forced to quit,” says Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines.
Survey results also revealed that 59% of non-smokers who showed curiosity in smoking are less inclined to try it out if cigarette prices were to increase.
“This data proves that the Sin Tax bill can protect the youth,” according to Cathy Alcanatara of the Student Council Association of the Philippines. “Our youth’s right to health falls on the hands of our legislators, we hope they make the right choice.”
Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) also recognize that taxing tobacco products is the single most effective measure in reducing the demand for tobacco. This tobacco control measure has been adopted, and proved effective, by neighboring countries such as Thailand and Singapore. ###