DTI fights illicit online selling of vapes, tobacco on Shopee, Lazada
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is fully committed to combating the alleged illicit trade of vapor and tobacco products in the country.
It is particularly zeroing in on possible trade malpractices found in the platforms of e-retailers like Lazada, Shopee, and Facebook Marketplace.
DTI’s statement of commitment was in response to a letter from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).
The letter appealed to the government to take action against the alleged illicit sale of cigarettes and vapes on the internet.
“We are bedazzled why these non-compliant, unregistered and possible non-tax paid tobacco and vapor products are allowed to be openly advertised, sold and distributed in the local market, especially online,” PMA said.
A copy of PMA’s letter was also sent to Senator Pia Cayetano and other government agencies concerned.
The organization also asked for the help of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Finance (DOF), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DTI stressed it is “in constant dialogue” with these popular online selling operators “to strictly screen and police online sellers that are selling regulated, restricted and prohibited items.”
DTI also stated it constantly coordinated with agencies, including the DOH, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
This is for implementing Republic Act 11900 or the ‘Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act.’
The department issues regular notices on violations and shows cause orders to online and offline sellers found violating laws.
DTI noted representatives of the e-commerce platforms initially gave their “utmost commitment to comply” when they met with the department’s Consumer Protection Group in March.
Shopee had removed more than 1 million prohibited vape listings from its website a day after a meeting with DTI.
However, DTI reports, as of today, non-compliant vape products continue to be listed on both Shoppe and Lazada.
The items do not bear Philippine graphic health warnings and are sold below retail prices.
In its appeal, PMA had expressed alarm over the sales, saying these practices are dodging regulatory oversight and thus, endangering the public well-being.
The association said raising the issue of unlawful sale of tobacco and vapor products and enforcing tax and regulatory policies are crucial to protect the government’s interest and Filipinos’ health.
“There is no way to verify if the products sold are registered and paid the correct taxes… since they do not bear the internal revenue stamps nor the required packaging or labeling requirements,” the doctors’ group said.