Pacquiao: Number of smokers up by 1M in 2022 sans higher tobacco tax
Without raising the tax on tobacco, the number of Filipino smokers would increase by one million in 2022, neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao said on Monday.
Pacquiao issued this warning when he took the floor on Monday to make another push for his Senate Bill 1599 seeking to raise the excise tax on tobacco products.
“The main objective for the proposal of this bill is to save lives,” he said in a privilege speech.
The senator noted that before Republic Act No. 10351 or The Sin Tax Reform Act was passed in December 2012, the number of smokers was estimated to be above 30 percent of the population from 1998 to 2008.
But because of the said law, the number of smokers went down to 25 percent of the population in 2013, and to 23 percent in 2015— a first in the last two decades, Pacquiao said, citing the National Nutrition Survey.
“As a result, it was calculated that at least 70,000 deaths have been averted since year 2013. Notably, it was the youth and the poor who benefited from this,” he said.
He added that the same survey results showed that between 2008 and 2015, there was a 26 percent to 28 percent reduction in the smoking prevalence among the poorest populations and a 40 percent reduction in the smoking prevalence among the Filipino youth aged below 20 years old.
“This goes to show that increasing tobacco tax works,” Pacquiao said.
“However, because of increasing incomes and population, it is expected that, without any further increase in the tobacco tax, we can expect 1 million new smokers by year 2022,” he added.
If his bill is passed into law, however, the senator said the number of Filipino smokers would go down by one million — from 13 million this year to 12 million in 2022.
“In short, we need this bill to continue our gains in the past. Mr. President,” Pacquiao said.
Moreover, the senator said smoking is a “gateway to drug use.”
“Based on scientific journals, it is estimated that tobacco use could be responsible for introducing drugs to one-third of users,” he said. “Of the 4.8 million ‘ever users” of illicit drugs in 2015, about 1.68 million may have started with smoking tobacco.”
Pacquiao said his bill is also expected to generate about P30 billion to P40 billion in incremental revenues. /ee
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