DTI steps up drive vs online sale of illegal vape products


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through the Consumer Protection Group (CPG), said it met with representatives from various e-commerce platforms in the country to address the proliferation of prohibited vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products being sold online.

DTI-CPG Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo reminded online platforms of their responsibilities to consumers and told them to strictly comply with the law, particularly in ensuring that minors have no access to Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products and Novel Tobacco Products.

“We called for a high-level representation to this meeting with the aim of getting the commitment of the decision makers; we want to ensure that products prohibited in RA 11900 are not sold in your platforms in blatant contravention of the law,” Castelo said.

The trade official added that failure to comply with the requirements set forth in relevant issuances shall “constrain” the DTI to undertake all necessary and available legal actions against these business entities.

Castelo also noted that each merchant found selling prohibited items in their platform is equivalent to one formal charge. Therefore, the number of merchants violating the law will determine the number of cases that the trade department may file against them.

According to DTI, Meta (Facebook), Lazada E-Services Philippines Inc., Shopee Philippines Inc., Grab Express Inc., PH, Carousell, Pick.A.Roo (Agile Digital Ventures Inc.), Delivery Hero Philippines  INc., Prosperma, and Etaily (TPA Operations Corp.) were present during the dialogue.

DTI said these platforms expressed their commitment in working together with them. With this, DTI noted, platforms that failed or refused to send representatives are “deemed to have been served with notice and cannot claim ignorance of the procedure implemented by DTI.”

With the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on December 28, 2022, all prohibited items under RA 11900 should no longer be found in the retail market, whether online or offline.

Meanwhile, DTI said manufacturers and importers are given an 18-month transitory period until June 5, 2024 to comply with product registration  and certification requirements of all electronic or vaporized nicotine devices and allowed consumables under RA 11900.

For product registration, DTI said only Bureau of Philippine Standards-registered and certified Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products, their devices, and Novel Tobacco Products with the applicable graphic and textual health warnings shall be sold to the general public by June 2024.

The trade department, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, its enforcement arm, recently inspected 11 vape shops selling vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco products in Manila.

The enforcement operation, headed by Assistant Secretary for DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Ann Claire C. Cabochan said that of the 11 inspected, eight non-conforming shops were issued a notice of violation (NOV).

According to DTI, the inspections resulted in the sealing of 3,318 units of vape products worth P863,240 in Manila.

The DTI-FTEB said among the rules that were allegedly violated by the vape shops are: Rule V, Section 6 that requires posting of the minimum age requirement around the establishment.

Another probable rule violation was Rule VI, Section 1, which prohibits selling vapor products with fruit flavors and/or packaging that uses cartoon characters.