Health Watch

Expert says higher tobacco tax to curb cervical cancer

MANILA -- An increase in the tax rates on tobacco products would curb cervical cancer and other diseases, a health expert said Thursday.

Dr. Efren Domingo, ex-president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in the Philippines, in a statement said cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer.

He said making cigarettes less affordable would prevent women from smoking and reduce secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke.

“The increase in tobacco tax has already been certified as an urgent measure, so together with the many other health advocates in the country, I hope that the Senate can act on this immediately once Congress resumes,” he said. 

Once Congress resumes session this month, it only has eight session days left for the measure to be passed, he said. 

According to the 2015 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates by the Department of Health, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer case for women in the country next to breast cancer with 7,289 new cases.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey showed that 5.1 percent of adult women are current smokers.

One out of three women who frequently use public transportation and three out of 10 women at home are exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke, the survey showed.

“Several studies have concluded that exposure to cigarette smoke significantly increases the risk of developing cervical cancer, and the reality is that you will be susceptible to this risk whether you are a cigarette smoker yourself, or a non-smoker who is exposed to secondhand or third-hand smoke,” he said.

In 2018, the House of Representatives approved a PHP5 increase on the current PHP32.50 excise tax per pack of cigarettes, which health advocates consider "not enough to support the Universal Health Care Law".

Current proposals on higher tobacco tax rates include PHP60, PHP70, and PHP90 per cigarette pack.

According to the World Health Organization, the PHP90 rate would achieve the most substantial decline in the rate of people using tobacco to 14.5 percent by the end of the current administration’s term. This is from 23.8 percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, the PHP60 tax rate is expected to decrease the prevalence to 17 percent. (PNA)

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