Tax on sugar-sweetened drinks lauded

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the Philippines’ passage of a landmark law that has new tax provisions for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).

“The initiative makes the Philippines among the first countries in Asia to introduce SSB tax in their national agenda,” the WHO said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act imposes a PHP6 tax per liter of caloric and non-caloric sweetened beverages.

“Evidence has shown that the SSB tax can reduce the consumption of sugars and help prevent overweight, obesity, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the WHO said.

This would address the rising rates of overweight and obesity in the Philippines, which account for four out of 10 deaths among Filipinos, as well as the tooth decay being suffered by 87 percent of Filipinos.

The world health body said that the revenue to be generated from the SSB taxation can contribute to health-promoting purposes.

“Taxation of SSBs is a great step forward in protecting the health of Filipinos,” the WHO said, adding that experience in other countries has shown positive results.

Mexico had implemented a 10-percent excise tax on SSBs in 2014 and saw a 7.6-percent drop in the purchase of taxed beverages in its first two years of implementation.

It congratulated Philippine legislators and health advocates for working hard to push the inclusion of the SSB tax in the law.

“This tax will save many lives over the next years,” it said.*(WHO)