HEALTH JUSTICE PHILIPPINES: Health Groups to Senators: Protect the health of the Filipino Youth, Pass Tobacco Tax Hike Now

Health Justice Philippines recently issued the following announcement.

Justice Philippines warned that failure to pass the proposal to increase tobacco tax pending in the Senate may result to more child and youth deaths.

The group warns Senators prolonging the deliberation to be mindful of the time left to pass this measure. “It is imperative that this tobacco tax increase is passed within this Congress, otherwise we will all have to start over again next Congress. And the delay in tobacco tax increase means more deaths and diseases which will most likely come from the youth, one of the more price-sensitive sectors of our society.”

According to Dr. Riz Gonzalez, chair of the Philippine Pediatric Society – Tobacco Control Advocacy Group (PPS-TCAG), studies have proven that the most effective means to improve lung health among children and young adults is to reduce tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. “Tobacco control must be a continuing and urgent priority for governments and communities worldwide.”

With nearly 700 million, or almost half of the world’s children breathe air polluted by second-hand smoke, children have a higher risk of serious health problems.

Apart from second-hand smoke, HealthJustice Philippines President Mary Ann Mendoza is anxious that the gains of previous tobacco tax increase in reducing smoking prevalence among the youth will be reversed if increases are delayed further.

“Knowing how critical this health measure is, the President has certified tobacco tax increase as priority legislation twice already. The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Health (DOH) who are government experts in tobacco taxation have already thrown their support, ” Mendoza said. “We find it odd that discussion is now reverting to the efficacy of DOH to absorb funds and certain provisions of Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, which have been discussed before during the deliberations of the said law.”

Dr. Gonzales added that “more than a supplemental source of UHC fund, tobacco tax increase is an anti-cancer measure designed to reduce tobacco-related deaths and diseases.”

Marjon Fenis, a member of Millenials PH, a youth organization attending the event, said: “We are appealing to our Senators to please pass tobacco tax to make cigarettes beyond our reach.” Fenis added that “cigarettes users are becoming younger because it’s becoming more affordable.”

HealthJustice Philippines, together with the Sin Tax Coalition, is mounting a one-day exhibit at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City to give awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco and lung health.

About HealthJustice Philippines HealthJustice Philippines is a public health policy think tank, whose technical and legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion has led to important and landmark policy reforms in both national and local levels. It is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control for its work on reducing the burden of the tobacco epidemic in the Philippines. It is also the Philippine program partner of the global NCD Alliance and was recently accredited CSO consultative status for the United Nations High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases.

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