Monitoring tobacco taxation in the Philippines at the TAP (Tobacco Action Patrol) of a finger
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World Health Organization, Switzerland
World Health Organization, Prevention of Noncommunicable Disease, Switzerland
World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Division of NCDs and Health through the Lifecourse, Philippines
World Health Organization, Office of the Representative to the People's Republic of China, China
Action for Economic Reform, Philippines
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A125
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Background and challenges to implementation:
In 2012, the Philippines passed the "sin tax law" restructuring its tobacco taxation scheme from a multi-tiered to a unitary system with annual increases in tobacco taxation planned from 2017 onwards. However, monitoring of implementation of the sin tax law was a challenge for government authorities due to limited resources and the country's geography (the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 islands).
In the Philippines, the population has a high penetration rate of mobile communication services with 115.8 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Leveraging the reach of mobile technology, a crowd-sourcing strategy was conceptualized jointly by WHO, government and civil society to monitor tobacco products at point-of-sale.

Intervention or response:
A smart phone app was developed and youth leaders from all over the country were convened for a workshop on tobacco control and use of the app for price monitoring. Afterwards, these youth leaders trained and mobilized youth volunteers from their universities to monitor tobacco prices in the community. The app allowed users to input tobacco prices and other details (e.g. brand, variant, quantity, tax stamps) at point-of-sale. Data was then transmitted to a central server located at the Philippine Department of Finance.

Results and lessons learnt:
Over a period of 1 month, over 6000 entries were submitted from all 17 regions, providing a snapshot national tobacco price and product survey. Data analysis provided market intelligence for government authorities and tobacco control advocates along with reports of violations to policies that prohibit tobacco sales within the perimeter of schools.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
The pilot demonstrated the application of mobile communications technology and youth mobilization as strategies for strengthening monitoring of tobacco control initiatives whilst overcoming resource constraints.

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