Press Release
May 27, 2019

Hon. Win Gatchalian, Co-Sponsorship Speech
Senate Bill No. 2233 / Committee Report No. 714

Mr. President, honorable colleagues in the Senate, good afternoon.

102,495 - this figure represents the number of smoking-related deaths in the country in 2017, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study. This means that 12 Filipinos die every hour due to tobacco-related diseases.

210 billion pesos - this represents the economic burden of smoking, from just the top four tobacco-related diseases in 2015. This is the cost that the country had to deal with, just in that one year, from healthcare costs, productivity losses, and premature death losses.

My esteemed colleagues, if that is not reason enough for us to move towards curbing the consumption of cigarettes among Filipinos, I don't know what will suffice as reason enough.

The Sin Tax Law as we know it today is not doing nearly enough to achieve that goal. The current tobacco excise tax of P35 per pack has not made much of a dent on cigarette consumption, as the average number of cigarettes consumed by Filipinos daily has actually gone up marginally from 10.6 sticks to 11 sticks a day between 2009 and 2015, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey. In other words, it is possible that cigarettes are so cheap that even the application of the current excise tax does not have any tangible effect on daily cigarette consumption.

Thus, what needs to be done, and what this bill proposes, is for the tobacco excise tax to be increased. Under this bill, we are proposing a tax rate of P70 per pack by 2020, with an annual increase of 9% thereafter.

Through this increase in tobacco excise tax, we are looking to accomplish the following:

First, reduce cigarette consumption from 65.82 billion sticks in 2019 to just 34.61 billion sticks in 2024, representing a decrease of 31.21 billion sticks within a five-year period;

Second, reduce cigarette consumption per smoker from 11.34 sticks a day in 2019 to just 7.09 sticks a day in 2024, which represents a reduction of 4.84 sticks per day;

Third, reduce the number of smokers from 15.9 million in 2019 to 13.38 million in 2024 - a decrease of 2.52 million over a five-year period;

Fourth, reduce smoking prevalence from 22.2% in 2019 to just 17.4% in 2024;

Fifth, cut down on the number of premature deaths among current smokers by 1,259,908 between 2020 and 2024;

Sixth, reduce the number of future smokers from 815,239 in 2019 to 748,315 in 2024; and

Seventh, prevent a total of 51,007 deaths among future smokers between 2020 and 2024.

The last two points are especially important, as they pertain to the effects of a higher tobacco excise tax on those who are not smokers yet - particularly the youth. As important as it is to lower the prevalence of tobacco use among the general population, it is even more vital for the youth to be directed away from the evils of smoking, if we want to ensure the health of future generations.

In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, pegging the tobacco excise tax at P70 per pack with an annual 9% increase will also result in revenue benefits.

Such an increase would bring up the average price of cigarette packs from P79.03 in 2019 to P114.03 in 2020. This will bring in at least P35.65 billion in additional revenues in 2020, and with the 9% annual increase in the excise tax, a total of P234 billion will be generated from 2020 to 2024.

These proceeds can be used to help finance the funding gap needed for the implementation of the government's Universal Health Care (UHC) bill. The Department of Health has estimated that P257 billion is needed to implement the UHC on its first year, with an additional P90 billion to P100 billion needed to sustain the program over the next five years. The revenues collected through the increased tobacco excise tax will no doubt go a long way in helping ensure the success of the UHC program.

Taken together, these benefits show in no uncertain terms that an increase in the tobacco excise tax can only have positive effects on the health of the population at large. It is thus imperative upon us to move forward with this measure, if only to ensure that present and future generations are free from the health and economic burdens posed by unrestricted tobacco consumption.

It is in the spirit of promoting the health of our countrymen that I bring this bill before you, my esteemed colleagues in this august chamber. I hope for your utmost support in securing a healthier future for the Filipino people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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