PUBLIC APPROVAL FOR HIGHER TOBACCO TAX INCREASES; SMOKING PREVALENCE PLATEAUS

Press Release/ 03 May 2019

The Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan Survey conducted last March 2019 shows higher public approval for increasing tobacco taxes. 75% of Filipinos now agree that tobacco taxes should be increased. This is higher compared to the results of the same survey conducted last September 2018, where 67% of Filipinos agreed.

“We are very happy with the recent results of the Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan survey, showing increased public support for our proposed reform.  3 out 4 Filipinos agree that tobacco taxes should be raised. It shows that more and more people are joining our call to save the lives of the people from the harms of tobacco use. Even among current tobacco smokers whom we expect to oppose the proposed measure, more than half of them (54%) supports the increase in tobacco taxes”, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

However, the survey also shows that current tobacco smokers is now at 24%, marginally higher compared to the 23% smoking prevalence reported in the September 2018 survey, and close to the 22.7% current tobacco smokers recorded in the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).

Looking at the smoking prevalence data from different systematically conducted and nationally representative surveys such as the GATS, National Nutrition Survey, Social Weather Stations, and Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan, the data shows that the smoking prevalence has already plateaued at around 23-24%.

“The Sin Tax Law of 2012 has been very effective in decreasing the number of smokers in the country. Due to the improving spending capacity of Filipinos however, there is a need to adjust the current tax rates to at least PhP 60.00 per pack, making cigarettes less affordable and less accessible to the youth. This rate will also allow us to reach our non-communicable diseases (NCDs) target for 2022,” Secretary Duque explained.

The Department of Health and the Department of Finance support Senate Bills 1599, 2177, and 1605 filed by Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Win Gatchalian, and Senator JV Ejercito, respectively. The agencies and civil societies are determined to pursue the proposal of increasing the excise tax of cigarettes to at least PhP 60.00 per pack, and be passed into law within the 17th Congress.