HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, called anew for higher tobacco taxes.
“We call on our legislators to increase tobacco tax to protect the health of our youth and to provide sustainable funding for universal health care in the Philippines. Universal health care encompasses health insurance, access to improved health facilities and the attainment of Millennium Development Goals, which include the prevention of non-communicable diseases,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, president of HealthJustice.
According to the Department of Health’s website, Universal Health Care, also known as Kalusugang Pangkalahatan, is the “provision to every Filipino of the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, fairly financed, and appropriately used by an informed and empowered public”.
“Universal health care, more than the provision of health insurance, is also about making our health care system more attentive to the prevention of illnesses. Our health policies should influence the population to adopt healthy habits. This, of course, entails the need for more resources, which we can get from revenues from higher tobacco taxes,” Fernandez Mendoza explained.
The health group, along with the Sin Tax Coalition of which it is part, had been actively calling for tobacco tax increases.
“Tobacco tax is a health measure that is already a good in itself. It is an effective deterrent to smoking, especially among the youth. Tobacco tax revenues can assure even greater health gains by providing resources for universal health care. On that note, we call on Senator Angara to initiate a hearing on tobacco tax in the Senate now,” Mendoza added.
The founding anniversary of the World Health Organization is also celebrated on World Health Day.
HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and advocates working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.