WHO urged lawmakers to prioritize SIN TAX law
Manila, 27 July 2012 - The World Health Organization commended efforts of the Philippine government to increase tobacco prices and taxes in the Philippines, but expressed "deep concern about aggressive lobbying of the tobacco industry to water down the proposed sin tax law".
Dr Soe Nyunt-U, WHO Representative to the Philippines said that, "Raising tobacco taxes will spare this generation of Filipino children from unnecessary suffering from tobacco-related cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. It is critical that the new sin tax law will raise prices to a level that will make it difficult for children to buy cigarettes and will discourage current smokers from continuing with this deadly habit."
Dr Soe also said that "We are concerned that the tobacco industry is aggressively lobbying for a version of the sin tax law that will increase revenue for the government, but will not raise the price of cigarettes to a level that will reduce tobacco consumption among the youth."
"Any legislation to raise taxes should contribute to reducing the number of smokers in the country. Higher tobacco taxes will save lives. With strong tobacco control measures such as a good sin tax law, the Philippines should be able to reduce the number of smokers by 170 000 a year. By the end of the Aquino administration, the number of smokers could be reduced from 17 million to 15.6 million by 2016. This could be a major milestone in Philippine public health", he added.
"We stand in solidarity with the government and civil society in advocating for a sin tax law that will raise the prices to a level that will discourage young people from trying to smoke and encouraging current smokers to quit."
He further stated that "WHO fully supports using the funds for Universal Health Care and emphasizes the importance of health promotion and tobacco control within this framework."
"The President has clearly articulated in the State of the Nation Address that the sin tax law is of utmost importance. The Philippine Senate has an opportunity to show its concern for Filipino children. It must not allow the tobacco industry to influence policy-making. The Philippine Senate must support the Department of Health in its public health goals. It is not enough to raise revenues. The objective of the Philippine Senate would be to save lives. We must not allow the tobacco industry to derail efforts to get people to quit."