Tax increases on e-cigs and heated tobacco products to prevent youth uptake
The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) welcomes new taxes on electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) signed into law by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on 22 January 2020 to protect the health of all Filipinos especially the youth and the poor.
“E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are harmful, promote youth addiction, and reduce the success of smokers wanting to quit their addiction. New taxes on these products are a win for the health of all Filipinos, particularly the youth, but while the new tax rates are certainly higher than rates approved by the previous Congress, they should be raised further to at least the same level as traditional cigarettes,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA.
The 2018 National Nutrition Survey already shows that 20 percent of e-cigarette users in the Philippines are aged 10 to 19 years old. This proportion of youth e-cigarette smokers is 3 times higher than the proportion of youth cigarette smokers.
Currently, the tobacco epidemic claims more than 117,000 lives in the Philippines annually and over 8 million lives globally every year. The government should act proactively to prevent a new epidemic before it takes root, one that threatens to prolong rather than end the current tobacco epidemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned that all forms of tobacco, including HTPs, are harmful and that e-cigarettes are undoubtedly harmful. More than 40 countries already ban the sale of e-cigarettes and HTPs, including four ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Coupled with a higher tax on alcohol products, taxes on e-cigarettes and HTPs will make the tax reforms overwhelmingly pro-youth, pro-poor and pro-health. (PR)