Ex-Health chief: Raise cigarette tax to discourage smoking

Former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan wants legislators to increase cigarette tax and make smoking less affordable to children and teenagers.

The cigarette tax rate in the Philippines is only P0.12 per stick for the cheapest brand, making it very cheap for the youth to “experiment” with cigarette-smoking, Galvez-Tan told reporters.

“If you really want people to stop smoking, the tobacco tax system needs to be improved immediately, to raise cigarette prices high enough to prevent or even stop children, youth, and the poor from tobacco use,” Galvez-Tan said.

At least one-fourth of the Filipino youth smoke cigarettes, because of the low tax environment and weak implementation of the law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to minors, according to the former health secretary.

In some cases, children start smoking even before they turn 10-years-old, according to the 2000 Global Youth Tobacco Survey.

The irony of it all is that while the number of smokers in developed nations is declining, more people are getting into the habit of smoking in developing countries like the Philippines, Galvez-Tan said, citing World Health Organization data.

source: gmanews.tv

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