Smoking is dangerous
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The first edition of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tobacco Atlas, noted that, despite the passage of the sin tax law, the prices of cigarets in the Philippines remain among the lowest in Southeast Asia and even in the world.
Laryngeal cancer survivor and president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines Emer Rojas who has been batting for better tobacco control policies, points out that the price of a pack of cigarets in the Philippines is $1.16 while the same pack would cost $9 in Singapore. He says that the Philippines has been lagging behind her neighbors in terms of tobacco control, such that even with the sin tax law approved last year, the price increases were still not enough to catch up with the World Health Organization recommended 70-percent tax burden on tobacco products.
The Tobacco Atlas says that 10 percent of the world’s smokers are found in the Asean region, with the majority (65 million) in Indonesia. The Philippines come in second place with 17.3 million smokers. It also estimates that Filipinos spend P326.4 million on cigarets products every month. Aside from generating extra tax revenues, one of the lofty goals of the sin tax law was to reduce the consumption of “sin” products such as tobacco and alcohol, but since Filipino smokers continue to enjoy one of the cheapest cigarets in the world, it would be safe to say that the sin taxes imposed on smoking is nowhere near as prohibitive as it was meant to be.
The government has been warning that smoking is dangerous to your health. But the only thing it has done so far is to pass a weak sin tax law that has obviously not made it substantially difficult for Filipino smokers to procure cigarets. Even the approval of a graphic health warning law that could help curb the tobacco epidemic has not gained much traction. While our government hems and haws to the tune of the influential tobacco lobby, millions of Filipino youth are picking up the vice everyday and many millions more whose health have been irreparably destroyed by decades of smoking are burdening the government with health care costs.
When will our government make a determined stand against the dangers of smoking?*