Health group calls for higher tobacco taxes to prevent kids from smoking

HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, called on Filipino parents to support the increase of tobacco taxes to discourage their children from smoking.

According to the 2015 Global Youth and Tobacco Survey, 16% of 13-15 year old students are current users of tobacco products. 10.9% of them smoke in schools. 79.4% of these young smokers buy on a “tingi-tingi” basis from sari-sari stores and ambulant vendors.

“It is alarming that plenty of youth are smoking. We must take swift and decisive action on this. Parents, for the sake of your children’s health and lives, tell your legislators to significantly increase tobacco taxes to discourage your kids from consuming tobacco products. It might develop into a deadly habit that will encumber them for the rest of their lives,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice Philippines.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global health treaty, urges all state parties, which include the Philippines, to design and implement an effective tobacco taxation system.

“The youth are generally price-sensitive because of the limited allowance they get. But in the Philippines, cigarettes are still accessible to the youth because our tobacco tax rate remains one of the lowest in the world. In Singapore, the average price of a cigarette pack is almost PhP 500. In Australia, beginning 2020, it will be higher than PhP 1500. We should raise tobacco taxes so that our youth will be discouraged from smoking,” Fernandez Mendoza added.

More than seven million people die annually around the world due to smoking-related diseases. In the Philippines, tobacco kills 10 people every hour.

HealthJustice Philippines is a Bloomberg Awardee on Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and advocates working to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases worldwide.