Sweetened beverage tax will help beat NCDs in the Philippines

19 December 2017

WHO/C. Black

The World Health Organization (WHO) commends the Philippines as it passes a landmark law today with new tax provisions for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act provides a Php6 per litre tax (approximately 14% increase in price) for caloric and non-caloric sweetened beverages. The initiative makes Philippines among the first countries in Asia to introduce SSB tax in their national agenda.

Evidence has shown that SSB tax can reduce consumption of sugars and help prevent overweight, obesity, and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the Philippines, overweight and obesity rates have been steadily increasing and diabetes and cardiovascular disease now cause 4 out of every 10 deaths among Filipinos. With 87% of Filipinos suffering from tooth decay, the reduction of sugars intake will also reduce this risk. The revenue to be generated from the SSB taxation also has the potential to be utilized for health-promoting purposes.

Taxation of SSBs is a great step forward in protecting the health of Filipinos. Experience in other countries has shown positive results. Mexico, for instance, implemented 10% excise tax on SSBs in 2014 and demonstrated an average reduction of 7.6% in purchases of taxed beverages in its first two years of implementation. The reduction in consumption is predicted to have positive impacts on health outcomes and reductions in health care expenses in Mexico.

We congratulate the legislators and health advocates who together have worked hard during the past years to push the inclusion of SSB tax into law. This tax will save many lives over the next years.