The Vape Bill, which awaits the approval of the President, will empower the Department of Trade and Industry to order a recall or confiscation of non-compliant vape products sold online and in physical stores, according to an industry group.
The Federation of Philippine Industries, the voice of local businesses, called for the signing of the Vape Bill into law to ensure that the trade of cigarette alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are regulated and monitored by the DTI.
FPI chairman and anti-illicit trade champion Jesus Arranza said in a recent letter to President Rodrigo Duterte that “by ensuring that only DTI-registered and Bureau of Internal Revenue-compliant products are allowed to be sold, advertised or distributed through lawful means—illicit trade of these products as well as their unintended use are minimized, if not totally eradicated.”
“The DTI has always been a capable and dependable agency in enforcing regulations that protect the consumers and our local small and medium enterprises,” Arranza said on a separate statement.
Arranza said that while he respects the opinion of some groups to get the involvement of the Food and Drug Administration in regulating vape and HTPs, “sadly their track record on enforcement is not reassuring, especially for consumers.”
Arranza said with the enactment of the Vape Bill, it would curb the proliferation of illicit and substandard devices that sometimes lead to serious accidents with unsuspecting consumers.
The group noted the inclusion of provisions in the Vape Bill that “aim to combat illicit trade and promote a level playing field between and among foreign and domestic manufacturers, importers, and exporters of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.”
The FPI is the largest umbrella group for trade in the Philippines composed of 168 organizations and companies from various industries. It proactively advocates for legislation that enhances economic development and informs members and the public about economic issues and policies which affect business directions.
Arranza said that with the authorization of the BIR to prescribe a floor price for these new products, the regulation of online sales by the Vape Bill is “very timely given the widespread shift to e-commerce from traditional trade channels.”
He said these new reforms would make it difficult for unscrupulous, unregistered and non-taxpaying traders to peddle their smuggled goods to innocent consumers.
“All these also guarantee correct, adequate and stable collection of taxes for the government while at the same time safeguarding local employment and investment of legitimate industries,” he said.
The Senate and the House of Representatives earlier approved Senate Bill No. 2239 or the “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act” and House Bill No. 9007 or the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act.” The consolidated version of the two bills is now awaiting the signature of the President to become law.
The bill aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vapes, heated tobacco products and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco products.
The FPI said the enactment of the Vape Bill will provide a “sweet spot for achieving the government’s revenue and health objectives.”