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The Philippines’ Secretary of Health has announced a significant decline in smoking prevalence as new data this week revealed adult tobacco use had reduced by almost 20 percent between 2009 and 2015. The steep decline – from 29.7 percent in 2009 to 23.8 percent in 2015 – was attributed to the high impact tobacco control policies established and rigorously implemented in the country over the last decade.

The new Global Adult Tobacco Survey [GATS] report indicates that the Philippines’ strong commitment to evidence-based tobacco control measures is protecting the nation’s health and economy. The Philippines’ Department of Health said that in simple terms, one million Filipinos had quit tobacco use between 2009 and 2015, the biggest decline in the country’s history. The national tobacco control programme includes graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging featuring real people with tobacco-related disease and a pioneering approach to raising tobacco taxes.

The Philippines’ ‘Sin Tax’ structure ensures tobacco taxes rise over time and tracks with inflation. Increased revenues from tobacco taxes are used strategically invested in Universal Health Care, medical assistance and health facility enhancement programmes. Increasing tobacco tax is the most effective measure for reducing tobacco use – increased prices discourage non-users from taking up smoking and encourage smokers to cut down and quit.

The 2015 GATS data also showed a significant decrease in exposure to second-hand smoke in public places – from 25.5 percent in 2009 to 13.6 percent in 2015. Well-enforced 100 percent smoke-free laws, that do not allow designated smoking areas indoors, protect people from the harms of second-hand smoke.

The Union has been working in the Philippines for the last ten years providing technical assistance for the development and implementation of evidence-based tobacco control policies. It is a priority country in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use as it has one of the highest burdens of tobacco use globally. At present one in four Filipinos still regularly use tobacco.

Access the GATS factsheet here. [394 KB]

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