MAY 16, 2019 — The Department of Finance (DOF) has revived Yosi Kadiri, the iconic anti-smoking mascot in the 1990’s, to convince lawmakers to raise sin taxes.
The DOF said the profits from the higher taxes on cigarettes will help fund the Universal Healthcare Law to provide full medical coverage to Filipinos.
Together with the Department of Health, the DOF launched the Facebook advertisement of the Yosi Kadiri mascot to support the government’s anti-smoking program and at the same time generate revenues from persistent smokers.
“This is a package to ensure there is sustainable financing over time para po sa universal healthcare law. Pangalawa gusto rin natin ibaba ang incidence ng smoking,” DOF spokesperson Tony Lambino said.
The DOF expects the sin tax hike over the current P32.50 per cigarette pack to contribute to the healthcare fund which will cost at least P257 billion in the first year of implementation.
One of the proponents of the sin tax hike and special guest in the Yosi Kadiri advertisement is Senator Manny Pacquiao, who wants P60 more per pack. The senator says this will generate at least P30.1 billion each year.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, wants a P70 per pack hike and while Senator JV Ejercito wants it even higher at P90 per pack.
While most consumers are comfortable with the tax hike, industry groups warn of illegal cigarettes.
They say manufacturers will be enticed to smuggle to earn higher profits.
“The higher the price brought by the tax in the domestic market ay mas malaki ang incentive na papasok ang illegal cigarettes sa bansa sapagkat mas malaki ang kikitain nila. The unintended result is smuggling and the proliferation of a gray market,” Federation of the Philippines Industries Chairman Jesus Arranza said.
Still, the DOF hopes lawmakers will be able to pass the sin tax hike before the current Congress ends in less than a month.
“We should not ever make smuggling an excuse to not pursue our health goals,” Lambino said.