Petition to Reform Tobacco Tax System and Save Lives
SAVE LIVES OF FILIPINOS
We appeal to our dear legislators to support the proposal to reform the excise tax imposed on cigarettes and other tobacco products. This is long overdue as the cigarette companies have been enjoying favourably in the existing tax system making the average price of cigarettes in the Philippines as among the lowest in the region. It is thus, not surprising, that tobacco-related diseases, among which are cancer, heart ailments, hypertension, emphysema, occupy eight of the top ten causes of deaths in the country.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) is supporting the tobacco tax proposals filed by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas and Batanes Rep. Dina Abad. We believe that passing these measures will greatly help the constituents of our dear legislators nationwide. These will be beneficial to the poor who are currently bearing the burden of poverty while suffering from smoking-related diseases and the youth who are the easy prey to getting hooked to cigarette smoking.
• The bills seek to increase the excise tax to P14 per cigarette pack on the low priced brands and P28.30 per cigarette pack to high priced brands by January 1, 2012. The excise tax for low-priced brands will increase to P22 while high priced brands will increase to P30 by January 1, 2013. These will be raised to a uniform rate of P30 the following year before adjusting to the current value of cigarettes according to the Consumer Price Index in 2015.
• Aside from increasing the prices of cigarettes to address the problems of smoking-related diseases, the legislative proposals also seek to reform the current tobacco tax structure for efficient tax administration and be able to collect the maximum revenue from this deadly substance. Removal of the price classification freeze, simplifying the multi-level tax structure and automatically adjusting the tax rate according to current prices were among the prescriptions toward this end.
• A portion of tobacco excise tax collection is earmarked for the health promotion programs of the Department of Health as well as appropriation for the universal health insurance coverage. The legislative proposals also provide for 15% of incremental revenue from tobacco and alcohol excise tax to finance alternative crops and livelihood. We believe these are necessary actions to affirm the urgency of public health over the profit interests of the tobacco industry.
We call anew on our Representatives and Senators to heed the plea for urgent action from their constituents. Tobacco-related diseases are all preventable diseases, only if, given appropriate attention. For the poor who do not have the means to acquire life-saving medicines and health services when afflicted with these ailments, increasing the prices of cigarettes will be more than imperative. (END)
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