Anti-smoking advocates want a tremendous increase on cigarette prices and put to use of President Duterte’s campaign against cigarette smoking, said an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday during a smoke-free summit here in the Philippines. 

Dr. Florante Trinidad of the WHO Tobacco-Free Initiative program noted that the country’s state of health care system could rationalize the proposed hikes in cigarette prices despite the counterargument that tobacco companies would be out of business. 

Trinidad said PH would want to join the 11 nations, including Japan, Australia, and other island countries such as Niue, which was able to stop the aggravation of cigarette use due to high taxes imposed on cigarettes. 

Trinidad said the proposal seeks to make smoking an expensive habit. 

Duterte’s campaign against cigarette

Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11346 that has resulted in a P35 to P45 cigarette tax in 2020, and then an annual increase of P5 until 2023. 

A leading cigarette brand currently sells a pack for P110. 

Trinidad cited this and has explained that the country’s tobacco taxes are still below 87.7% of the imposed  taxes in Nieu, 82.2% in New Zealand, and 77.5% in Australia. 

Moreover, smoke-free advocates expect not only the periodic increases for tobacco products but also for other habit-forming or addictive commodities, such as liquor and high-sugar beverages and treats. 

“Ensuring good health for all Filipinos has a high cost,” Trinidad said. 

“We pray for the time when all these products become very expensive.” 

Advocates pushes the matter as they want to take advantage of Duterte’s support for no-smoking campaign. 

“It has not been necessary to explain to him the (health impact of) smoking. He is the no-smoking campaign’s champion,” Trinidad stated. 

City of Pines: a sanctuary for second-hand smokers 

Trinidad also mentioned Baguio City as it has been able to decrease its population of smokers by 18% due to its ban on smoking in many parts of the place. 

Based on a 2015 city health survey, the summer capital of the country has a total population of roughly under 60,000, wherein 1.5% are vapers or the people who use e-cigarettes. 

The results also show that 8 out of 10 active smokers revealed they wanted to quit smoking. 

Trinidad suggested that Baguio City should monitor if the tobacco regulations have affected the place’s tourism. 

Thus, the positive effect will be one of the means to completely make the city a sanctuary for second-hand tobacco smokers


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