Duterte warns about dangers of smoking, backs higher sin taxes
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday warned the public about the health risks associated with smoking after he expressed support for the proposal to impose additional excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.
Speaking at the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Pasay City, Duterte said smokers make themselves vulnerable to diseases such as emphysema and cancer.
"You know how dangerous really," he said.
Duterte in 2017 replicated what he started in Davao City as mayor when he banned smoking at the national level, particularly in enclosed public places and public conveyances nationwide.
On Monday, Duterte approved the proposal of the Finance and Health departments for higher sin taxes by pushing for their passage in Congress.
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last month two bills seeking to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.
Under House Bill 8618, distilled spirits such as brandy, whisky and alcopops will be levied a 22-percent ad valorem tax rate per proof on the net retail price, plus a specific tax of P30 per liter beginning 2019.
House Bill 8677 seeks to increase the excise tax on cigarettes to P37.50 per pack in July 2019, and will be raised by P2.50 a year after that.
Senator Manny Pacquiao proposed to raise the excise tax on cigarettes to P60 per pack, which is currently at P35, while Senator JV Ejercito sought to raise the excise tax on cigarettes to P90 per pack.
Pacquiao, in a sponsorship speech for his Senate Bill 1599 last November, said the Sin Tax law helped reduce smoking prevalence by 26 to 28 percent, and by 40 percent among Filipinos below 20 years old, noting such gains must be sustained with higher rate of tax increase.
“The main objective of this bill is saving lives. Because of increasing incomes and population, we can expect one million new smokers by 2022 without any further increase in the tobacco tax," Pacquiao said.
Duterte apparently shared this concern.
"Nakikita namin sa sales sa sin taxes. Taasan mo na yung alcohol, taasan mo na lahat yung ano, ang sales ano pa rin pati 'yung kita ng gobyerno," he said.
Malacañang has characterized the proposal as a "key public health measure" to reduce deaths and disabilities due to tobacco and alcohol consumption and a "revenue measure" to fund the universal health care program. —JST, GMA News