MANILA, Philippines – In the Bulong Pulungan meeting held on. November 27, 2012 in Sofitel Manila, Sen. Pia Cayetano commented on the latest developments of the Sin Tax Bill. With bicameral proceedings rapidly approaching, the Senator says that utmost preparation is necessary to overcome the next set of hurdles in the way of having a strong bill passed.
“In the coming bicam meeting we should pay close attention to every little development so as to ensure that no provision that can weaken the bill shall be included,” says Eng. Emer Rojas, Global Cancer Ambassador and President of the New Vois Association of the Philippines.
As a cancer survivor, Eng. Rojas is fully aware of the implications legislation can have on lifestyle and culture. “I got addicted to smoking when I was a teenager because it was cheap. This bill could protect the youth today from what I, and countless others, have suffered and lost,” he continues.
Through legislation, smoking can be made out of reach for the youth and the poor. A study conducted by the Social Weather Stations revealed that at P10/stick or P200/pack, majority of youth smokers will quit.
“Smoking is cultural and habitual. It is a societal problem that must be addressed on a macro level,” according to Sen. Cayetano. Currently, the cheapest cigarette can be purchased as cheap as a peso per stick.
“Sin Tax is a deterrent for the youth, therefore insuring that smoking will not be as embraced in the future. This is just one aspect of Health Promotion, which aims to improve the overall quality of life,” says Dr. Alberto Romualdez.
Health promotion is an investment that enables people to increase control and improve their personal health by making healthier options more affordable and accessible. Programs include tobacco control, alcohol control, exercise, proper diet, and road safety. It aims to rid people of risk factors that lead to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.
“P10 for every Filipino is only fair to ensure that each one has access to a healthier and better lifestyle. With 60% of deaths attributed to non-communicable diseases, we need health promotion now to effectively mitigate this epidemic,” continues Dr. Romualdez.
Dr. Romualdez, together with five fellow former health secretaries, signed a statement calling for P1 billion funding for health promotion from the revenue generated by Sin Tax.
“The impact of proper legislation can highly improve society. Earmarking funds for health promotion can ensure that we have safeguards against the diseases induced by poor lifestyle choices,” says Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines. “This might be the only time for health promotion. Our legislators must recognize that the P100M allotment for education and information is certainly not enough.” ###