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WHO cites PH as ‘forerunner’ in sin tax reforms

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By Chino S. Leyco

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the Philippines as an international model for cost-effective promotion of health and reduction of non-communicable diseases (NCD) due to the country’s “sin” tax reforms.

Based on the WHO’s “Philippine NCD Investment Case Report,” the government’s imposition of higher excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products made the country “a forerunner in allocating sin tax revenue to health programs.”

According to the WHO report, the government’s sin tax “actions to prevent NCDs in the Philippines” are “relatively cheap and cost-effective” measure but “would provide the greatest returns on investment.”

The WHO, likewise, lauded the government’s proposed measure seeking to increase the excise taxes on alcohol and nicotine vapor products to fund the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC).

Currently, both the Departments of Finance (DOF) and of Health (DOH) are pushing for the urgent passage of Senate Bill No. 1074, which significantly raises “sin” tax rates on alcohol, heated tobacco, and e-cigarette products.

“Most of these policy interventions are also WHO best buys: that is, effective interventions with a cost–effectiveness ratio of less than or equal to 100 international dollars per disability-adjusted life-year averted in low- and middle-income countries,” the WHO report said.

Meanwhile, the DOF has also expressed support for the WHO report’s recommendation of adopting comprehensive approaches to tackling NCDs.

“The DOF is one with our partners in the WHO in supporting comprehensive approaches to truly address the health impacts of sin products,” Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said during the recent launching of the WHO report.

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