WHO cites Philippine for efforts to raise ‘sin’ taxes
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited the reforms implemented by the Philippine government to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products as a means to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCD), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Citing WHO’s Philippine NCD Investment Case Report, the DOF said the institution has described the Philippines’ tax packages on alcohol and tobacco as “cost-effective” methods to promote health and prevent NCDs among Filipinos.

The organization also lauded the government for earmarking excise tax collections on alcohol and tobacco products for the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program, making the Philippines “a forerunner in allocating sin tax revenue to health programs,” the DOF said.

According to WHO, increasing taxes on sin products is “one of the most effective measures a government can take to reduce their consumption, improving population health, while increasing government revenue for national development priorities.”

The WHO report came as the DOF and the Department of Health (DOH) jointly push for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1074, which further raises excise taxes on alcohol, heated tobacco, and electronic cigarette products.

Prior to the submission of this bill, the government has already passed Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law and Republic Act 11346, which imposed higher taxes on regular tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

In response to the report, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino said tax reform is an important part of the government’s efforts to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases.

“Tax reform is an important part of this effort, raising prices, especially for the most vulnerable segments of society,” Lambino said during the launching of the report.

“They also generate revenues to fund holistic health programs from the higher contributions of those who insist on consuming unhealthy products, the same consumers whose medical care will cost more to society in the future anyway,” he said.

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