Thursday, August 7, 2014

Drilon: Sin Tax, Graphic Health Laws to help gov't win war vs. smoking

MANILA-The initial successes of the Sin Tax Reform Law in reducing the number of Filipino smokers could be greatly boosted by the implementation of the Graphic Health Warning Act, according to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

The Senate leader made the statement as the 
Graphic Health Warning Act formally takes effect today. 

“Once the two landmark laws – the Sin Tax Reform Law and the Graphic Health Warning Act – go into full implementation, I am very confident that we will see a significant number of Filipinos quitting smoking especially among the youth and poorer sector,” stressed Drilon.

“A year and a half after the Sin Tax Law was passed, we can see that it is a very potent law towards reducing the number of Filipinos smokers,” he said.

The Department of Health and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported that as an effect of the Sin Tax Reform Law, smokers of lower socio-economic standing (class E) are beginning to stop smoking. From December 2012 to March 2014, the number of smokers from class E dropped down by 13 percent, from 38 percent to 25 percent.

“By 2017 when a uniform tax rate on all types of cigarettes would have already been imposed making the price of cigarettes much higher and relatively unaffordable to the youth and the poor, more and more Filipinos will be encouraged to finally stop smoking,” he said.

“The numbers reflect the fact that slowly, the state’s aggressive anti-smoking policies can help convince people to stop their smoking habit for good and the implementation of the Graphic Health Warning Act will boost up our campaign against smoking,” Drilon said.

Moreover, additional revenues generated from the Sin Tax Reform Law will continue to benefit the health sector.

“For instance, in the proposed P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget, 15.4 indigent families will be enrolled in Philhealth, which will mostly be funded from sin tax collections,” he said.

Under the Sin Tax Reform Act, 80 percent of the remaining incremental revenues will be allocated for the universal health care under the NHIP and 20 percent will be allocated nationwide for medical assistance and health facilities enhancement program.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also reported that the sin tax collections for the first half of the year are nearly twice that of collections made within the same time period in 2013.

“The government’s domestic cigarette tax collection has gone up by 44 percent, as the government was able to build up collections up to P28.1 billion from January to June of 2014, as compared to the P19.5 billion cigarette excise tax collections made from January to June of 2013,” said Drilon.

“In 2013, if we did not pass that Sin Tax Law, excise tax collection on tobacco products, would have amounted only to P28.5 billion. With the passage of the Sin Tax Law the excise tax on tobacco amounted to P70.392 billion, an increase of P41.8 billion,” pointed out Drilon.

Drilon said the additional revenue would help finance more programs and subsidize more medicine and medical services to many Filipinos including construction of health facilities. 

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