Group: PHL still has low cigarette prices

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

DESPITE the presence of the Sin Tax Law since last year, prices of cigarettes in the country continue to rank among the lowest in the world.

This was the revelation of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific citing a recent study it had in several countries.

"Popular local cigarette brands in Cambodia and the Philippines have the lowest prices in the Asean and in the world, both at USD0.58," said SEATCA.

According to SEATCA, having cheap cigarette products creates environments that continue to encourage the youth to take up smoking, and fail to reduce the overall incidence of tobacco use.

The WHO and SEATCA said having higher taxes is among the most cost-effective means to reduce tobacco use and its consequent harms to health and economic development.

Nevertheless, SEATCA still chose to recognize the efforts of the Philippines to make cigarette inaccessible in the country with the passage of Republic Act 10351.

"The sin tax reform in the Philippines makes the country an example to follow in the Region," WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Shin Young-soo.

It was back in December 2012 when President Benigno Aquino signed the Sin Tax Law, which increases the prices of sin products, such as cigarettes, thus making them inaccessible, especially to the young and the poor.

Because of this, the WHO strongly urged other Southeast Asian countries to follow the Philippines' example in implementing tax reforms involving cigarette products.

"Countries should recognize that higher tobacco prices will save lives and reduce the high economic and social burden of tobacco addiction," he said.

"We know that restructuring tobacco prices and taxes would significantly reduce tobacco consumption and prevent unnecessary suffering and death from cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases," Shin further said.

WHO estimates showed that tobacco kills more than five million people each year and is on track to kill more than eight million by 2030 if no actions are made to reduce tobacco consumption. (HDT/Sunnex)

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