Raise cigarette prices by 156 percent

Cigarette prices should be increased by 156 percent to effectively discourage people from smoking, a study of the University of the Philippines and anti-tobacco group Health Justice showed.

In a statement, Health Justice technical consultant Jo-ann Latuja said many people are hooked to smoking early in life because it is affordable.

High cigarette price

High cigarette price

Latuja noted that if a stick of cigarette would cost P5 or more, the youth would not be able to pick up the habit.

High priced cigarettes are currently priced at P 32 per pack. To reach the price of P 5 per stick, price per pack must increase by 156 percent or from P32 to P82, which is equivalent to a 367 percent increase in cigarette excise tax per pack, or from P12 to P56 per pack,” she said.

She said prices of low-priced cigarettes, on the other hand must be raised by 454 percent or from P15 to P82. “(This) is equivalent to a more than 2,000 percent increase in cigarette excise tax per pack, or from P2.72 to P63,” Latuja said.

The survey covered some 435 students in eight public high schools in Quezon City who are currently smoking.

“Survey results confirm that making tobacco less affordable is the most effective way to reduce consumption and make more users quit, particularly those who are young and belong to the low-income families,” Health Justice said.

The group added the Philippines has the “lowest tobacco tax rates and cigarette prices” in Southeast Asia.

“Increasing the prices of cigarettes deters the youth from starting and continuing the habit, and spares them from the diseases that come with it. If the current administration can be serious with taxing tobacco as it is with eliminating corruption, the Philippines can be well on its way to becoming a healthier nation by the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term,” it said.

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