Sin Tax Coalition Statement on Rep. Marcoleta’s Berating of DOH Sec. Herbosa 

The Sin Tax Coalition supports Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Teodoro Herbosa’s statement upholding public health and tobacco control. 

House Commission on Appointments member Rep. Rodante Marcoleta’s reprimanding of Secretary Teodoro Herbosa for cautioning the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) against its plans to make the Philippines an e-cigarette and heated tobacco product (HTP) manufacturing hub is deeply misguided.

The President appointed Sec. Herbosa as Secretary of Health, whose primary duty is to protect and promote health interests. Thus, Sec. Herbosa’s warning addressed to DTI is in fulfillment of his duty as Health Secretary and by extension, in fulfillment of his accountability to the President and the people.

We believe that Sec. Herbosa, like the President, seeks to balance commercial and health perspectives, and highlighting the health perspective through warning DTI on the potential of the tobacco epidemic is exactly what the President expects him to do. 

Sec. Herbosa is actually protecting the country, and in turn, the reputation of the administration, by raising public health concerns. It would be detrimental for the Philippines to become a hub for harmful products that are being rejected by countries all over the world. The international community has recognized that e-cigarette use is linked to significant health harm and economic harm. Governments are sounding the alarm on potentially fatal diseases linked to e-cigarette use, such as e-cigarette and vaping related lung injury (EVALI).

Furthermore, Marcoleta overlooked the fact that healthcare for all is an advocacy of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos. This image as a staunch health advocate will be tainted if the Philippines becomes a purveyor of harmful products like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. 

We commend Sec. Herbosa for being steadfast in upholding public health and protecting the country’s gains in reducing tobacco consumption. We also urge the DTI and economic managers to reassess their plan to develop the Philippines as an e-cigarette manufacturing hub. It is crucial that our industrial policy balances economic interests with the health and well-being of our citizens.