Approved with a vote of 20-0, Senate Bill 2233 aims to increase the excise tax on cigarettes by PHP 45 (EUR 0.77) per pack effective Jan. 1, 2020; PHP 50 (EUR 0.86) per pack in January 2021; PHP 55 (EUR 0.94) per pack in January 2022 and PHP 60 (EUR 1.03) per pack effective Jan. 1, 2023. This will be followed by a five-per cent annual tax hike starting Jan. 1, 2024, the report said.
Prior to its approval, several senators made amendments to the bill, including expanding the tax coverage to include heated tobacco and vapour products. The bill also mandated the placement of text and graphic warnings on those products. Revenues from the new taxes will mainly be used to finance the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, according to the report.
Philippine WHO representative Gundo Weiler said the country posted a “record drop” in smoking rate from almost 30 per cent in 2009 to 24 per cent in 2015. This represents a one-fifth decrease, the highest in Asia in “such a short period of time.” “The sin tax, the advertisement ban, the restriction [on public smoking], package labelling – it’s really a battery of measures that has resulted in significant decrease in smoking rates,” he was quoted as saying.