The Sin Tax Coalition strongly supports House Bill No. 10329, also known as the “Anti-Illicit Tobacco Trade Act,” filed by House Ways and Means Chair Representative Joey Salceda on May 6. The bill aims to mitigate illicit tobacco trade by establishing a tracking and tracing system all throughout the tobacco value chain, strengthening coordination with local government units to address illicit trade, banning the online sale of tobacco products, and mandating regular surveys on the consumption and production of tobacco products.

Illicit trade, done through manufacture, distribution,  and sale  of counterfeits, contrabands, and other unlicensed/unregistered tobacco products, poses a great threat to public health by making tax-evading and unregulated tobacco products affordable and accessible to consumers, especially the poor and youth. Public health spending is also undermined, since the bulk of forgone tobacco excises would have funded the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law. 

We thank Rep. Salceda, a long-time health advocate, for acting decisively to address illicit tobacco trade. We hope that the Ways and Means Committee will approve the bill as soon as possible. 

We also hope that Rep. Salceda’s initiative to promote health and revenues will lead to the revival of his health tax reform agenda, particularly the increase in the excise tax for alcopops. 

Further increasing the alcopops tax so the rate will be equivalent to the tax rate for beer products is a means to  protect the youth from harmful drinking. Rep, Salceda is the author of House Bill (HB) 1810, which intends to  moderately raise  tax rates  on pre-mixed alcoholic beverages or alcopops.  The  Sin Tax Coalition and the health care professionals commend Rep. Salceda for championing HB 1810. We expect the Ways and Means Committee, which Rep. Salceda chairs, to facilitate the passage of HB 1810 in the House of Representatives, at the soonest possible time. 

Both HB 1810 and HB 10329 will go far in ensuring a sustainable stream of revenues for health and reducing consumption of unhealthy products.