Citing the P47.9 billion in incremental revenue projection of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominquez, Senator Pia Cayetano is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 1074, which seeks to increase the excise tax on alcoholic beverages, heated tobacco products, and vapor products.
Cayetano said Senate Bill 1074 would bridge the funding gap for the first year of Universal Health Care implementation. She said the sin tax is both a health measure and a revenue measure.
In terms of health, Cayetano said the bill seeks to reduce consumption of these products, and in terms of revenue, it wants to generate revenues for UHC.
“As a health advocate, I will push for other regulatory measures to support the tax. Taxation is a tool. It’s not the end-all be-all so we must help the DOH to come up with measures to provide a health approach to the problem of smoking and drinking,” Cayetano said.
Under Cayetano’s proposal, HTPs and vapor products would be taxed equivalently with traditional cigarettes at P45 beginning next year, P50 in 2021, P55 in 2022, and P60 in 2023, with 5 percent annual increases from 2024 onwards.
Sin Tax Coalition co-convenor Anthony Leachon said that taxing these products at parity with regular cigarettes will be effective in regulating the use of these products, particularly among the younger population.
He said that date from the 2018 National Nutrition Survey showed that one out of every five vape users in the country is aged 10 to 19 years old.
“This is especially alarming, as the serious health risks associated with vaping are now beginning to surface in the United States,” said Leachon.
He said that raising the taxes on HTPs and vape is a necessary measure in order to protect Filipino youth from these health risks, and prevent a similar epidemic from happening in the country.
Leachon said that a high increase to sin taxes has been proven effective in reducing the consumption of sin products since the passage of the Sin Tax Law of 2012.
Aside from the tax on HTPs and vape, Senate Bill 1074 also proposes to significantly increase the tax on alcoholic beverages. Further interpellations on the reform are expected once Congress resumes from its sine die break next month.
Health advocates from the Sin Tax Coalition pledged their support for Cayetano, Senate Ways and Means committee chairperson.
“As the plenary debates on the e-cigarette tax begin in the Senate, we hope that our other senators also follow her lead, and support the approval of this key health reform,” said Leachon.
Senator Francis Tolentino was the first legislator to interpellate on Cayetano’s proposal.
During his interpellation, Tolentino said that he believes that the advertisement and sale of these products must be regulated in the same way as traditional cigarettes, which Cayetano agreed to.