Recto Sin tax bill compromises 60,000 lives – UP doc says

A University of the Philippine medical expert said that they will not stop fighting for the enactment of Sin tax measure to save lives against “watered-down but realistic’ version of Senator Ralph Recto’s report which compromised 60,000 lives to protect tTobacco companies.

“He considers revenues, he considers smuggling, but he totally forgot about 60,000 lives that we are losing from lowering, from watering down the Santiago bill,” Dr. Antonio Dans, professor at the UP-College of Medicine said in an interview.

He said that under Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago bill, a single tier excise tax scheme was introduced to tax cigarettes unlike the multi-tier scheme introduced by Recto which destroy the health side of the measure.

“In a multi-tier system, you destroy the health side, because instead of asking people to stop smoking, they will shift to a cheaper brand, that’s not we want,” Dans explained.

“The bill must stop people from smoking and giving multi-tiers, from the effective brand, it will have a problem in the implementations that is the least of the problem of the multi-tier system,: he added.

He said the main problem with the multi-tier system as proposed by Recto that the excise tax is pass on the bill, therefore the consumer will have to pay for the excise tax, and therefore lowering tax protects the consumer that is fluently said in his report.

“That is wrong – you are not protecting the consumer by lowering the excise, you are killing the consumer,” he said.

Dans said that Recto did not mention in the report is moving from Santiago bill to his measure which will led to the loss of 60,000 lives a year.

“We will not take this sitting down. We showed them the calculation, we showed them the fact but nothing have been deliberated, ganoon na lamang ba that we will ignore 60, 000 lives, and go on and lower the bill,” he said.

He further explained that if you increase the average excise tax by 265 percent, elasticity studies showed that smoking rates will go down from 31% to 26%.

“Ang kontin lang, a small drop. Right now, 31% of Filipinos smoking magiging 26%, May be it is a small drop, but definitely will not kill ng industry,” he said.

“But that drop from 31% to 26% represents more than two million people stopping smoking. If you stop smoking, you will avoid death from 49 diseases that can kill you from smoking like lung cancer, coronary diseases, stroke, heart attack, chronic pulmonary diseases,” he further explained.

Dans added that literature said that about 30% of the people who stop smoking will avoid smoking related death in the year after you stop smoking. “And if you stop smoking, you have a legacy effect for ten years.”

“So what we did is to distribute the 30% into ten years that means every year you save the life of 3% of the people who stop smoking. If you have 100 people stop smoking every year, 3 of them will avoid death,” he said.

“So, isipin mo, two million people will stop smoking, ano ang 3 percent nyan, that is 60,000 lives a year will be save by the Santiago version but under the Recto bill, you will only save 10,000 lives a year,” he added.

“So, Recto has given up 60,000 lives a year. Ang mura na ba ang buhay, and you will protect the tobacco industry from 60,000 lives. It is not contested when we presented it in the Senate. I showed them the fact, I showed them the calculations, no one contested that these will take lives, but it wasn’t in the deliberation, it was not in his report,” he said.

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