The Department of Trade and Industry through the Consumer Protection Group (CPG) led by Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo met with various E-commerce Platforms and online marketplaces in the country held on March 1, 2023.
This is to address the proliferation of prohibited vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products being advertised and sold online despite the ongoing monitoring and enforcement efforts of the DTI.
Present in the meeting were DTI-CPG Assistant Secretary Ann Claire C. Cabochan, Bureau of Philippine Standards Director Neil P. Catajay and Assistant Director Ferdinand L. Manfoste, Fair Trade Enforcement Director-in-charge Marimel D. Porciuncula, and Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau Assistant Director Cherryl G. Carbonell.
DTI-CPG Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo reiterated to online platforms their responsibilities to consumers and firmly reminded 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.
She likewise issued a stern warning that violators shall be dealt with using the long arm of the law.
“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 RA11900 are not sold in your platforms in blatant contravention of the law. 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 warned.
Undersecretary Castelo further reminded her brothers in the legal profession representing the platforms that their duty to their client is to ensure that they comply with the law, not to circumvent them.
She added 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 DTI will file against them.
Meta (Facebook), Lazada E-Services Philippines, Inc., Shopee Philippines Inc., GrabExpress Inc., PH, Carousell, Pick.A.Roo (Agile Digital Ventures Inc.), Delivery Hero Philippines, Inc., Prosperna, and Etaily (TPA Operations Corp.) were present during the dialogue, and have expressed their commitment in working together with the Department.
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 IRR on 28 December 2022, all prohibited items under RA 11900 should no longer be found in the retail market, whether online or offline.
Meanwhile, manufacturers and importers are given an 18-month transitory period until 05 June 2024, to comply with product registration and certification requirements of all electronic or vaporized nicotine devices and allowed consumables under RA11900.
For product registration, only BPS-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.
To know more about the RA11900, a copy of the IRR is available for download from the DTI website.