• PH bags Bloomberg tobacco control award

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    The Philippines bagged the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control for having tangible progress in terms of tobacco control in the country.

    At the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Philippines is one of six honorees for its fight against tobacco epidemic under its MPOWER method, considered the most effective means of demand-reduction tobacco control.

    MPOWER stands for Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; Protecting people from tobacco smoke with smoke-free air legislation; Offering help to quit tobacco use; Warning about the dangers of tobacco with pack labels and mass media, Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and Raising taxes on tobacco.

    Bloomberg Philanthropies recognized the Philippines under the “R” category of its MPOWER awards, “Raising taxes on tobacco.” The Departments of Finance (DOF) and Health (DOH) played a critical role in passing the Sin Tax Law in 2012.

    Bloomberg Philanthropies noted how the Sin Tax Law “greatly simplified the tax system, introduced higher excise rates, and indexed the tax rate to an inflation proxy of 4 percent annually after 2017…despite strong opposition from and interference by the tobacco industry.”

    “The Department of Finance has stood strongly for tax increases vocalizing their support to the media and Congress while fighting strong opposition and interference by the tobacco industry since the law’s passing. The Philippines is also expanding universal healthcare across the country to improve public health,” it said.

    Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul Jr. of the Domestic Finance Group accepted the award in behalf of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

    According to the DOF, the Sin Tax Reform law has generated an additional P102 billion to finance the country’s universal health care and health infrastructure programs in the first two years of implementation. Eighty percent of this amount is accounted for by tobacco taxes

    Citing a study by Dr. Antonio Dans using data from the country’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s National Nutrition Health Survey (FNRI), the agency said for the first time in three decades, the country’s adult smoking prevalence declined below the 30 percent level

    Dans noted that adult smoking prevalence declined from 31 percent in 2008 to 25.4 percent in 2013. There are 3.2 million less smokers today, averting about 32,000 smoking-related deaths.

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