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Philippine Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons, Inc. (PATACSI) fully and strongly SUPPORTS the passage of Senate Bill 3249 – An Act Restructuring the Excise Taxes on Alcohol and Tobacco Products (revised version of House Bill 5727), or the Sin Tax Bill.
We are an organization of competent and socially responsive thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons committed to the advancement and promotion of quality healthcare for all Filipinos, particularly in the fields of lung, heart and vascular surgery.

The impact of a diagnosis of Lung Cancer for a patient extends far beyond the physical and financial aspect, for the repercussions affect the entire family and their future.

The bad effects of prolonged alcohol and tobacco use, even the effects of second-hand smoke have long-been emphasized by health organizations and practitioners here and abroad, but despite all the warnings and information drives, tobacco still kills nearly six million people worldwide each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex-users and more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke, according to the latest data of the World Health Organization (WHO).1 And if more aggressive and corrective measures are not put in place by each country, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.1

According to the DOH, smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. Yet ten Filipinos die from tobacco use every hour and about 87,600 Filipinos die every year.2 These are staggering numbers — the bottom-line of which is that: Cigarette smoking kills!

Despite all these statistics, smokers still increase in number and consumption of tobacco products is growing globally, especially in the low and middle-income countries.1 Reasons may range from ignorance of the ill-effects of tobacco use, addiction, or simply because tobacco products are easily accessible due to low prices. As a result, the poor and even the young indulge in this vice. In the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) report, there is a higher prevalence of tobacco use among poor Filipinos and they also tend to spend their money on tobacco or alcohol products rather than on education and health.

The Philippines has the highest per capita consumption of cigarettes in 2007 and one of the lowest prices of cigarettes and the lowest taxes imposed, compared with its ASEAN neighbours.3 The Philippines now stands as having the most number of smokers in Southeast Asia, with an estimated 17.3 million tobacco consumers.2

Non-smokers are not spared from the vicious outcome of this tobacco epidemic. WHO data showed that in adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.1

We firmly believe in more aggressive and urgent taxation measures to reduce if not prevent tobacco consumption. According to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 6, “Price and tax measures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption”.4 The DOH reported that the annual healthcare cost of major smoking-related diseases (lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is about a shocking P177 billion.

By passing the SB 3249, this act will be a practical deterrent for tobacco usage. It will likewise generate revenue for universal health care, and more importantly in the long run, it will reduce the devastating consequences of smoking that affect the families and the communities.

DOH estimates that a 10 percent increase in tobacco taxes would reduce by two million the number of smokers by 2016, and reduce by 20 percent the number of yearly deaths due to smoking-related diseases.

We recognize and enjoin the WHO MPOWER 2012 campaign that governments and societies should Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, Protect people from tobacco smoke, Offer help to quit tobacco, Warn people from dangers of tobacco smoke, Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, Raise taxes on tobacco.4

We, as specialist surgeons in this field are all too familiar with the crippling effects of smoking-related diseases, especially Lung Cancer. It’s not just a physical diagnosis, it’s a disease that impacts the whole family financially, mentally, emotionally. The passage of SB3249 is definitely a right step towards a better society and a better future for everyone.

It is our moral responsibility to actively support this bill, and we urge our conscientious lawmakers to pass and ratify the SIN TAX bill (Anti-Cancer Bill).

Philippine Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons, Inc. (PATACSI)

1WHO Tobacco Fact Sheet 2012; 2National Tobacco Control Strategy 2011-2016, DOH; 3 WHO, MPOWER Report 2009; 4WHO, MPOWER Report 2012