Philippines Trade Department Assures of Action Against Illegal Vapes

Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will be boosting its enforcement against retailers who sell vaping products which are somehow in violation of the recently set vape bill:  The Republic Act (RA) 11900.

DTI Assistant Secretary Ann Claire Cabochan revealed this intention during a recent public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking.

Cabochan said that some violators have already been identified, a number of them who were illicitly selling vaping products within close proximity to places frequented by teens, others selling products somehow appealing to youth and some selling products not carrying the required health warnings.

“I think there have been 23 firms. So, a total of 16 show cause orders were already issued by the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau,” said Cabochan, answering the query of Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva. She added that the DTI had already sent official warnings to online selling platforms urging them to comply with RA 11900.

Compliance issues with the Vape Bill
A few months back, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means panel, had highlighted a “lax compliance” with the Vape Bill. He said that untaxed and imported vaping products are being passed off as “toys” and “electronics” on online selling platforms. The economist-turned-lawmaker said that his staff scoured online platforms to check how easy it is to purchase items online while bypassing all restrictions that should be in place.

He revealed that sadly his colleagues were able to do so easily. “It turns out, it’s very easy to buy vape without any of these requirements,” he said, adding that there are some online sales of vaping products “that are not even branded” and some online sellers avoid paying excise taxes on by categorizing these as mere toys and electronics.”

“Advocates of the vaping regulation law argued that it was a better way to regulate the sector and supposedly save lives. It also provided rules on the sale of vape online. Let’s prove it,” he added.

Salceda said that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) should set in place further restrictions to fight counterfeit vaping products and ensure that excise taxes are imposed on imported vaping products. “The BIR should impose some degree of accountability on online shopping networks that they are aiding and abetting tax evasion if they sell products that do not comply with excise taxes. I would like rules ensuring that vape is categorized as a restricted product, not as toys or electronics in online shops. That will also help prevent tax evasion and marketing to minors.”