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DOH: Sin Tax Law helped control lifestyle risk factors in Philippines

The imposition of taxes on sin products has helped the Department of Health in its bid to control lifestyle risk factors among the population, DOH officer in charge Dr. Ma. Rosario Vergeire said on Friday.

At a press briefing, Vergeire said the Sin Tax Law was part of the government's strategy to be able to regulate and control different risk factors to lifestyle.

“Alam natin na ang lifestyle risk factors sa ating bansa ay mataas. Nandyan na po yung sa sigarilyo, and 'yan po yung sa alcohol. Ngayon dinadagdag natin yung sweetened beverages, dinadagdag natin ang junk food,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire said sweetened drinks and junk food could contribute to obesity and excess weight "and these contributing factors becomes lifestyle-related factors."

At a hearing of the House Committee on Health on Wednesday, the DOH proposed an amendment of the Sin Tax Law to increase the excise tax on tobacco products, vape and heated tobacco products, sweetened beverages, and introducing excise taxes for junk food or non-staple food high in salt, fat, and calories.

Asked how much the DOH’s proposed increase in Sin Tax, Vergeire said “Ito po yung pinagaaralan parin natin sa ngayon, magkano kelangan pa natin dahil alam natin na nakakakuha na ng sin taxes from alcohol, tobacco, from heated products, at sa vape. Ngayon idadagdag ang sweetened beverages at junk food.”

“For 2022, we got around 59% of our budget or 155 billion from the Sin Taxes," Vergeire said.

"So ganito po ang gusto natin makita in the coming years that these Sin Taxes can fund the different interventions that we do to provide universal healthcare for everybody,” she added.

Citing the data from Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Vergeire said the Sin Tax helped reduce the smoking prevalence in the country from 31% in 2008 to 20% in 2019.

“Malaking bagay po yun dahil yun ang titignan para makita yung risk ng population at saka yung burden sa population cause we know  that this kind of lifestyle will lead to diseases eventually, the non communicable diseases, and will be an economic burden also to the country,” Vergeire said.

“Yung ating obesity or overweight statistics nung 2018, nagpakita siya ng sustained increase from 31% in 2015 to 37% obese individuals in the Philippines by 2018. So this is already a public health concern, dahil alam natin na yun pong risk ng isang tao na overweight or obese sila, mas mataas ang risk nila to develop these noncommunicable diseases,” she added.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the Philippine government raised more money from tax reform measures, which includes the Sin Tax Reform laws, last year than it had projected.

Data released by the DOF showed that the government collected P228.6 billion from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, the Tax Amnesty Act, and the Sin Tax Reform laws. —NB, GMA News