Following the landmark passage of the Sin Tax Reform Law last week, Senate Ways and Means Chairperson Pia S. Cayetano said she will push for a more comprehensive approach to continue protecting Filipinos’ health and well-being.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law last January 22 Republic Act No. 11467, which imposes heavier tax rates on alcohol, heated tobacco products (HTPs), and vapor products.
“Part of the task is to get this law signed. We now have accomplished that. I thank all of the [health] advocates and everybody who spent so much time in helping us see this through,” Cayetano said during a press conference in Intramuros on Tuesday (January 28).
The senator in particular thanked her colleagues in Congress for supporting the provision under the law that mandates the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate e-cigarette products.
RA 11467 provides for the establishment of a framework for the regulation of HTPs & vapes by the FDA, including banning the sale to non-smokers and persons below 21 years old.
“One of the successful provisions that we have been able to include in this law is for the FDA to regulate these products. And I am very happy about that… We have now provided the legal mechanism for FDA to take the lead,” she stressed.
“The challenge is now with them. And I implore upon all the stakeholders, both on the side of the advocates and the industry, to support FDA to allow them to do their job,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cayetano said the campaign to protect Filipinos from the dangers of sin products should not stop with imposing higher taxes. Taxation, she noted, should be complemented by a comprehensive public health strategy.
“The journey is not over because the effectivity of the law is in its implementation,” she said.
The senator then expressed her commitment to work with her fellow legislators as well as with government agencies and advocacy groups to assess and strengthen the country’s smoking- and drinking-cessation programs.
“I would like to work with our Committee on Health in the Senate and our counterparts in the House to strengthen our existing regulations and, to the extent necessary, [implement] new laws for the protection of our youth against these harmful products – alcohol, HTPs, and vapes,” she stressed.
“I am also calling on the education and health departments, community officials, and parents, [to guard the youth against e-cigarette products]… It is supposed to be for those who want to shift from cigarettes to another product. It is not there to encourage the youth to take on a brand new vice,” the senator concluded. #