By Analou De Vera
Health advocates urged lawmakers anew to pass a measure that will raise tax rates on tobacco products.
“Tobacco use remains a major risk factor for contracting head and neck cancers, among other forms of cancers. No product is deadlier than tobacco because it kills half of its users,” said Dr. Danilo Poblete, president of Philippine Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (PSO-HNS).
“Should no measures be taken to discourage cigarette smoking, many Filipinos will continue to face the serious health risks associated with cigarette use,” he added.
Poblete said that raising tobacco tax will help save the public from possible health hazards caused by tobacco smoke.
“With a pro-health tobacco tax rate, at least one million Filipinos will be discouraged from starting to smoke. If we also take into account the number of non-smokers who would no longer be exposed to secondhand smoke because of this, we will be able to save many more people from falling victim to one of the most preventable risk factors for cancer,” he said.
Poblete added that an increase in tobacco tax will help generate funds for the Universal Health Care law which includes programs for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all cancers, including head and neck cancers.
“I would also like to remind the legislators of the numerous health laws passed this year that could benefit from the funds from increasing tobacco taxes,” he said.
“This would improve the quality of treatment and implementation of health interventions in the country,” he added.