With Congress set to resume next week, health advocates from the Sin Tax Coalition called on the senators to prioritize the proposal to increase taxes on alcoholic beverages, heated tobacco products, and vapor products in the coming plenary discussions.
The 18th Congress has been on its sine die break since the start of October.
Before the break, Senate Ways and Means committee chairperson Pia Cayetano sponsored Senate Bill 1074, which seeks to significantly increase taxes on alcohol and e-cigarettes.
“We thank Senator Pia Cayetano for her efforts in prioritizing this important health reform. Increasing the tax on sin products is proven effective in lowering consumption among Filipinos, particularly the youth. We urge the other senators to support this measure, and join the fight to ensure better health outcomes for our countrymen,” said Sin Tax Coalition co-convener Dr. Anthony Leachon.
For e-cigarettes, Cayetano aims to raise the tax rate on HTPs and vape to PhP 45, aligning them with traditional cigarettes.
“We must increase the taxes on HTPs and vape to prevent the youth from being enticed to try using these products.
We also remind our legislators that the 2018 National Nutrition Survey revealed that one in every five vape users in the country is aged 10 to 19. This is a serious matter that must be addressed, and raising taxes will help regulate the use of these harmful products,” Leachon said.
Recently, the Department of Health announced that vaping-related injuries are now part of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, has over 1,600 reported cases in the US, with a majority coming from the youth. Over 30 people have also lost their lives.
Meanwhile, for alcoholic beverages, Cayetano proposes to increase the tax on distilled spirits from PhP 23.5 to PhP 90 per proof liter with a 20% ad valorem tax beginning next year.
For fermented liquors and alcopops would be taxed at PhP 45 per liter, up from PhP 25.4.
Finally, a specific tax of P600 would be imposed on sparkling wines, while a specific tax of P43 would be imposed on still and carbonated wines beginning 2020.
“Alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of non-communicable disease, including cancers of the breast, liver, and mouth. With the 2018 NNS also reporting an increase in drinking prevalence in the country, we must act quickly to put a stop to this, and increase taxes on alcoholic beverages to ensure better health for our countrymen,” said Leachon.
Leachon also reiterated the need to raise taxes to help fund the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law signed earlier in the year.
According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Cayetano’s proposal is expected to generate at least P47.9 billion in incremental revenue. This would help bridge the funding gap that still exists for the first year of the UHC Law’s implementation.
“It is imperative that we secure the necessary funding that will help us reach the milestones that UHC aims to achieve,” Leachon added.