Ejercito, Hontiveros want tobacco tax increased to P90 per pack
Sen. JV Ejercito on Wednesday said they were “determined” to increase the tobacco tax by as much as P90 per pack, as this would not only help cut down the prevalence of smoking in the country but also provide much-needed fund for the proposed universal healthcare bill.
Based on his office’s computations, Ejercito said the government was still short by around P50 billion to be able to ensure that the country had a “genuine” universal healthcare system.
The fund is pooled from the resources of the Department of Health and Philippine Health Insurance Corp., as well as contributions from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Given that tobacco companies are expected to resist the adjustment, Ejercito said they could agree to as low as P60 per pack.
Citing available data, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the tobacco tax, which is currently at P32.50 per pack, had helped bring down smoking prevalence in the country from 31 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2015.
“If we increase tobacco taxes to at least P60 per pack, with an annual 10-percent increase, we’d be able to have more than a million [fewer] smokers by 2022,” she said. —Jovic Yee
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