by Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce
An anti-smoking group, composed of cancer survivors, yesterday slammed the move to delay the implementation of the unitary tax system on tobacco products that was scheduled to start this January.
New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) President Emer Rojas accused the tobacco industry of trying to stop the reformed sin tax system through House Bill 4144, which aims to maintain a two-tier tax system on tobacco products.
“As victims of tobacco-related diseases, NVAP is calling on our congressmen to consider public health over profits by rejecting any move to stop the full implementation of the sin tax law through the unitary tax system,” Rojas said in a statement.
In 2012, the Philippines marked a legislative milestone after a reformed sin tax law was passed. The law, signed and implemented during the Aquino administration, imposed a four-tiered tax system on tobacco products starting 2012 that will become unitary starting January 2017. This means that all tobacco products will now carry a P30 tax per pack.
Rojas said maintaining the current two-tier tax for tobacco products will defeat the essence of the sin tax law, as cigarettes will still be affordable when that happens.
“Despite the sin tax law, the prices of cigarette products in the Philippines remain to be one of the lowest in Asia. Blocking the unitary tax system would perpetuate the affordability of cigarettes in the Philippines to the detriment of public health,” he pointed out.
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