A good start

Being let into the tax loop is a tacit recognition by the state of the right of business and industry to exist and be of service to society.

Taxation coverage of any economic sector is a virtual seal of acknowledgment of its legitimacy.

They cease to become fly-by-night operators subject to constant harassment by state regulators.

When the products or services offered by a business or industry are vested with a tremendous public interest issue like personal health, safety, and security, their recognition by the state even becomes more morally compelling.

The government is both constitutionally compliant with its mandate to “promote the general welfare” of the people while achieving its fiscal objective – generate revenues to finance social services, development projects, and operational expense of the government.

It also earns the gratitude of investors who raised the capital to put up plants or factories that employ and keep people on the payroll, support families, and promote community development.

Last but not least, consumers of products or services that reduce health risks and maximize a safe lifestyle are likely to give government high marks in terms of empathy – a natural drive of all administrations for public acceptance and approval.

Consider the case of smoking-cessation devices that are now safely under the tax net.

Tobacco harm-reduction advocates welcomed the passage of the amended Sin Tax Law which imposed excise taxes on e-cigarettes or vapes effective Jan. 1, 2020.

“This is momentous because in effect, the government now recognizes e-cigarettes as legal commodities in the Phlippines,” they said.

Despite this recognition, however, tobacco harm-reduction campaigners are being met with “institutional resistance” from governments and even international organizations whose universal mission is – quite ironically to promote public health.  

They gathered in Makati City on February 28 to launch the Asia- wide education and information campaign #SmokeFree4Life and urged the World Health Organization  and the Department of Health  to respect the rights of smokers who want to switch to safer smoke-free alternatives during the 9th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to be held in November.