MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law imposing higher excise taxes on tobacco products, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
Republic Act 11346, signed Thursday, will raise excise taxes on cigarettes by P45 per pack by 2020, P50 per pack by 2021, P55 per pack by 2022, and P60 per pack by 2023.
It also places a P10 tax for every 10 milliliters of vaping liquids.
The government has said that revenues collected from the higher tobacco excise taxes would be used to fund the Universal Health Care law.
Despite the passage of the measure, the Department of Finance on Wednesday said more taxes on tobacco and alcohol products were needed to plug a shortfall in funds for universal healthcare.
Finance Usec Karl Kendrick Chua said the funding gap could swell to P400 billion over a 5-year period if the government doesn't further raise taxes on vaping liquids and heated tobacco products.
Sen. Imee Marcos said she opposes new taxes on tobacco saying current taxes imposed on tobacco products should be enough.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate ways and means committee, welcomed the signing of the law, saying it was pushed in Congress in a bid to generate additional revenues to fund the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.
The law aims to provide health care coverage for all Filipinos.
In a statement, Angara said the law would also help reduce the number of smokers given higher prices of cigarettes, heated tobacco and vapor products.
"We want to discourage the youth from taking up smoking and also reduce deaths and disabilities brought about by smoking," he said.
- With a report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News