(Manila, Philippines – May 31, 2018) On World No Tobacco Day, HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, once again called on legislators to “protect hearts” by raising the excise tax on tobacco products.
“Tobacco taxation is a health measure that has saved millions of lives around the world. Tobacco consumption is dangerous to both smokers and non-smokers, and is a known cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) such as heart attack, heart failure, hypertension, congenital heart disease, and hypertension, among others. We call on our legislators to increase the excise tax on tobacco products to at least P60 per pack to protect the hearts of our people from diseases,” said Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, Board Member of HealthJustice and former Health Secretary.
The theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated annually every 31st of May, is “tobacco and heart disease.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CVDs are the leading cause of death globally, and tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand smoke contribute to around 12% of all deaths caused by CVDs.
“Cardiovascular diseases cause more deaths than any other type of disease worldwide and in the Philippines. 19 Filipinos die every hour because of CVDs. 22% of CVDs are attributed to tobacco use. The state must take proactive measures to address this serious problem. We call on legislators to increase the excise tax on tobacco products to at least P60 per pack to protect our hearts and prevent more lives from being claimed by the top killer in the country and in the world,” Galvez-Tan asserted.
The call comes amid the revival of talks on tobacco tax in the Senate. Senator JV Ejercito said last May 29 that with an increase tobacco tax, “makakakuha na tayo ng much needed revenues para sa pangangailangan ng ating pamahalaan, and, at the same time, it will now become a health measure na mabawasan na rin ‘yung talagang mga nagsisigarilyo.”
World No Tobacco Day traces its existence to Resolution WHA42.19 of the World Health Assembly. The Resolution was passed in 1988.
The WHO, states and non-government organizations and individuals advocating for the people’s right to health celebrate World No Tobacco Day by raising awareness about and emphasizing the harmful health, social and economic effects of tobacco use.
HealthJustice is known for advocating significant increases in the excise tax on tobacco products. In an earlier statement, the organization, through its President Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, said that “another tobacco tax increase will save at least one million lives by 2022.”
The Youth for Sin Tax Movement also organized a fun run to urge legislators increase the excise tax on tobacco products.
HealthJustice Philippines is Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a member of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts, advocates and organizations working to decrease the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.
Download press release here.