Health societies advocate increasing tobacco tax

By Louie Dy (Class 2021)

 

Tax Tobacco Now!! Doctors and nurses, the elderly and the youth, jointly advocate increasing tobacco tax. Photo by Louie Dy.

 

The Sin Tax Coalition, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III, and presidents of various medical and health societies jointly held a press conference advocating the increase of tobacco sin tax last October 12, 2018 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Social Hall.

 

Public statements in support of this motion were made by representatives from the following groups, societies, and institutions:

  • Adult Medicine Research Unit
  • Bigkis UP Manila
  • Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids
  • Center For Empowerment And Development of The Elderly and Seniors (Cedes)
  • College of Art and Sciences – UP Manila
  • Child Nephrologist Society of the Philippines
  • Confederation of Older Persons Association of the Philippines
  • East Avenue Medical Center
  • Endocrine Witch.Net
  • Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines
  • Kalusugan ng Mag-ina Inc.
  • Mother and Child Nurses Association of the Philippines
  • New Vois Association of the Philippines
  • PhilHealth
  • Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity
  • Philippine College of Chest Physician
  • Philippine Pediatric Society
  • Philippine Heart Association
  • Philippine General Hospital- Pulmonology
  • Philippine Lipid and Atherosclerosis Society
  • Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
  • Philippine Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Philippine Society of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine
  • Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion
  • Philippine Society of Nephrology
  • Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine
  • Philippine Neurological Association
  • Philippine Nurses Association
  • Philippine Rheumatology Association
  • Philippine Society of Vascular Medicine
  • Sangguniang Kabataan – Batasan Hills
  • UP College of Nursing
  • UP College of Public Health
  • Vital Strategies

Dr. Antonio Dans, the head convenor of this event, explained: “Advocacy means to add voice for the disadvantaged. We are not lobbyists. We have no political ambition. We are advocates.[non-verbatim]”

The Universal Health Care Bill, which had passed the third and final reading last October 10, 2018, triggered the buzz on increasing tobacco tax, which would serve as a source of funds (known as “earmarking”) for the said bill.

 

However, according to Dr. Dans, increasing revenue is only secondary to the goal of lessening the number of smokers and the 150,000 deaths per year that result from 47 life-threatening diseases caused by tobacco. Between 2012 (when tobacco tax was first increased) and 2015, the number of Filipinos who smoked went down from 17 million to 14 million. With the current price of tobacco being 50 pesos per pack (5th cheapest in the world), the decrease in smokers will wane and be followed by a rise from 13.5 million to 14.5 million smokers from 2017 to 2022. This bill will prevent that increase in 1 million smokers.

To the medical students, Dr. Dans left this inspiring message: “This is for you, so that you can practice your trade without thinking of costs, regardless of the ability of the patient to pay. This is for you, because one day you’re going to be the beneficiary.”

ERRATUM: The last paragraph has been corrected.

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