Health has become an important aspect in everyone’s lives due to the ongoing pandemic. And governments who commit to protect people’s health emerge as role models for the whole world.
In the Philippines, people’s health is being threatened from harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry. The department of health conducted a mobile phone survey to assess the prevalence of risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). A total of 3,087 adults took part in the survey in January 2021.
The survey found that alcohol harm was high among Filipinos:
- Four in 10 Filipino adults (40.1%) reported past 30 day alcohol use.
- Men used more alcohol than women (51.5% vs. 28.9%).
- One in three Filipinos (33.1%) reported high-risk and heavy alcohol use with consuming six or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting.
- Again men engaged in greater numbers in binge alcohol consumption than women (43. 2% vs. 22.9%).
As Movendi International previously reported, the Philippines government estimates a cost of P200 billion (about $4 billion) caused by alcohol harm annually.
In a landmark move the President planned to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes to partly fund universal health coverage (UHC) in the country. After many obstacles posed by the Big Alcohol lobby, the tax increases for alcohol and tobacco were finally approved in December 2019.
The laws which support universal health coverage (UHC) in the Philippines
Three laws that came into force recently aim to increase taxes on health harmful substances and fund the UHC program in Philippines.
- The Universal Health Care (UHC) Act passed in 2019 and provides for enrolling of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program and requires a more robust system of primary-care providers.
- The Tobacco Tax Law 2019 raised the cigarette tax to P45 in 2020 with an annual increase of P5.00 until it reaches P60.00 per pack ($1.30) in 2023, and a 5% annual increase thereafter.
- The Republic Act 11467 raised excise taxes on alcohol and the newly added e-cigarettes.
The government estimates to raise P25 billion (about $500 million) from alcohol and e-cigarette taxes and P16 billion (about USD 320 million) from tobacco taxes. The tax revenues will accelerate the UHC goal of the country. Health for all is within reach, thanks to alcohol and tobacco taxation.
philstar Global: “40% of Pinoys drink, 15% smoke – DOH survey“