While the Freedom of Information and Reproductive Health bills are taking time to be passed in the Congress and Senate respectively, The Sin Tax Reform Bill endorsed by Senator Franklin Drilon is on the express way to its passage. The Bill aims to generate revenues by imposing additional taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. The funds generated will be allocated to the government’s health care services where majority of the expenses are incurred by pulmonary cases.
One of the risk factors in such cases is the inhalation of cigarette smoke not just by the smokers but also by the innocent bystanders who are subjected to second and third hand smoke. The increased cost of cigarettes can also discourage people from getting into the smoking habit. Decreasing the number of smokers and caring for the respiratory health of the general public need not result to loss of livelihood for some. The government should also take measures to address the Bill’s possible effect on Tobacco farmers. There should be a plan for an alternative livelihood for the affected farmers. Tobacco plants may be replaced with other crops or fruit bearing plants. They can also look for indigenous materials that can be made into handicraft products like home decors, bags, woodwind instruments, or musical tools.
The fiscal and health care benefits of the bill is something that the country really needs and while we are disappointed with the slow passage of other controversial bills, there is no complaint on the speedy passage of the Sin Tax Reform Bill. However, we can only reap its benefits if law enforcers and public officials implement the law properly and use the generated funds for its intended use.