Less than one peso increase per stick for more lives saved

Press release – Action for Economic Reforms – 12 November 2012

In a press conference in Manila, civil society and health experts highlighted the health impact of Senators Frank Drilon and Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s proposed sin tax measures.

Dr. Antonio Dans of the UP College of Medicine made the distinction between the three pending sin tax proposals.

In a presentation, Dans revealed that from a current average price per cigarette stick of P0.95, Senator Ralph Recto’s bill would cost P1.15 per stick, Drilon’s would cost P1.65 per stick and Santiago’s would cost P1.78. “That’s only a 70 centavos [increase] for Drilon and 83 centavos for Santiago. Hindi naman mukhang lugi ang tobacco industry kapag titignan ang actual price of cigarettes.”

In Drilon’s version, an estimated 2,200,000 smokers will quit while Santiago’s would be at 2,490,000. In terms of deaths averted, Drilon’s measure would save 66,000 lives while Santiago’s would save 75,000 lives. He added that the difference between the Santiago and Recto’s bills would be 51,000 lives.

“The bottom line is that we are saving 51,000 lives at the cost of only 83 centavos per stick. Sana huwag ninyo ipagpalit sa isang piso ang buhay ng 51,000 na Filipino every year,” stressed Dans.

While the Drilon and Santiago measures would increase by 225% and 267% respectively, Dans clarified that the large percentages did not equal an immense increase in tax rates. “Ang liit ng pinagsimulan, so even if you increase it by 267%,ang liit parin ng tax. Parang sinabi mo, nag-deposit ako sa bangko at ang interest ko 100% pero kung piso lang deposit mo, piso lang din ang kikitain mo a year.”

Dr. Abundio Balgos of UP Manila echoed Dans’ statements and added, “Kung meron namatay na 50,000, siguro parang maliit lang yan pero kung ikaw ang namatayan, malaking-malaki iyan. Huwag natin ipagsasantabi ang buhay.”

Balgos also stated the academe’s collective and wholehearted support for the sin tax measure that will maximize its health impact.

Dans also backed Drilon’s measure, saying, “We are supporting the version of Senator Drilon because it has a higher likelihood of being passed and it’s close to Senator Santiago’s bill, especially by the fourth year, halos pareho na ang taxnila.”

Estimated Health Impact of Sin Tax

 

Status Quo

Recto

Drilon

Santiago

Proposed Tax Rate Increase (per pack)

0%
(P5.54)

65%
(P9.15)

225%
(P18.02)

267%
(P20.34)

Price per stick

P0.95

P1.15

P1.65

P1.78

Smoking prevalence

31.0%

29.5%

26.8%

26.3%

Smokers quitting

0

790,000

2,200,000

2,490,000

Lives saved

0

24,000

66,000

75,000

 

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