The Department of Health (DOH) today welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Republic Act 11346, a law that increases the excise tax on cigarettes by P45 per pack effective 1 January 2020.

“We are very much elated by the move of the President to increase taxes on tobacco products in order to fund Universal Health Care,” Duque said, adding that increasing taxes will also reduce the number of smokers.

Under the new law, taxes on cigarettes will increase incrementally starting next year. The excise tax on cigarettes will be P45 per pack effective January 1, 2020. It will also raise the excise tax on cigarettes to P50 per pack in 2021, P55 per pack in January 2022, and P60 January 2023.

Aside from increasing excise taxes on tobacco products, it also includes excise taxes on vapor products and puts a cap to local government share from tobacco excise collections.

Vapor products are liquid solution or gel which contains nicotine that transforms into an aerosol without combustion through the employment of a mechanical heating element, battery, or circuit that can be used to heat such solution or gel, and includes but is not limited to a, cartridge, a tank, and the device without a cartridge or tank.

It is commonly known as e-liquids for e-cigarettes. It also includes electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS), which are combinations of non-tobacco containing e-liquids or refills which can contain up to 65 milligrams per milliliter of nicotine in the e-liquid or refill and an electronic delivery device to produce an aerosol, mist or vapor that users inhale by mimicking the act of smoking.

Moreover, the law also requires that all packets and any outside wrapping of cigarettes, vapor products, and similar products shall carry a health warning compliant with the Graphic Health Warning (GHW) Law or RA 10643.

“This landmark law means that there will be sustained funding to achieve the intentions of the Universal Health Care Law,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said, noting that revenues from this law will also upgrade medical facilities, train doctors and nurses, scale up non-communicable disease prevention services, among others.

“Having higher taxes on cigarettes will mean that more people will be discouraged from taking up the smoking habit, more people will be spared from smoking-related diseases, and government’s spending for these diseases will be lessened, ultimately giving us more room to focus on our health promotion efforts,” the health chief concluded.