MAKATI CITY—Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual ordered the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) on Monday to tighten the monitoring of vape online merchants. Specifically, he instructed the FTEB to continue conducting daily monitoring of major online platforms, social media sites, and various company websites for possible violation of Republic Act No. 11900, otherwise known as the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-nicotine Products Regulation Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) or DTI Administrative Order (DAO) 22-16, Series of 2022. Through this issuance, an Online Monitoring Unit (OMU) was created under the FTEB.

To date, the OMU has been able to monitor 37,808 online vape sellers, of which only 274 were found compliant. There are 1,649 non-compliant online vape sellers that have valid addresses and are being validated further by DTI’s enforcement teams. Meanwhile, the 35,885 non-compliant online sellers with incomplete or no declared addresses were consolidated for Show Cause Order (SCO) issuance per platform, social media page, or website.

As of 18 July 2023, a total of 201 SCOs have been issued and are currently under evaluation of the FTEB’s Prosecution Unit.

Recognizing the challenge of regulating the selling of vape products by online merchants, the DTI maintains a constant dialogue with online selling platforms.

With this, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual shared that, “One of the major platforms took swift action and immediately implemented preventive and/or corrective measures to strengthen the policing of prohibited vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.  Other platforms have also committed to enhancing their mechanisms to take down listings of prohibited vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco products. We ensure the public that we, at DTI, will continue pursuing initiatives that will ensure the safety of our consumers, especially the youth sector. We need to balance public safety and business interests.”

“Monitoring and enforcing the vape law in the vast online marketplaces are indeed challenging. But we are gaining significant results through our enforcement and advocacy initiatives. We have the cooperation of marketplaces and e-commerce platforms. Aside from that, we have consumers and consumer organizations as our partners in protecting the rights of the public, especially minors. Some consumers actively report possible violators being validated by our enforcement unit,” DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo added.

Further, DTI-FTEB Director Atty. Fhillip D. Sawali and Assistant Director Marimel D. Porciuncula pledged that with the full support of e-commerce platforms and consumer sectors, the DTI enforcement team will keep up its momentum in enforcing R.A. No. 11900 and its IRR.

In addition to online monitoring, 679 vape stores have been inspected by enforcement teams as part of their regular enforcement. Out of 679 vape stores, 283 were found to be compliant while 247 non-compliant firms were issued with SCO and Notice of Violation (NOV), and they were mandated to submit a written explanation within 48 hours from receipt thereof. Meanwhile, 149 are no longer selling vape products or were already closed upon inspection.

In sum, the enforcement operations resulted in the seizure of 16,893 units of vape products worth Php5,178,982.00.

Through the combined efforts of the on-the-ground and online enforcement teams, there are already 109 formal charges filed against violators of R.A. No. 11900 and its IRR. A case has also been filed against one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the country.

R.A. No. 11900 vests the regulatory jurisdiction over vapes and other novel tobacco products in the DTI while providing complementary roles to other government agencies, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), and Local Government Units (LGUs).  

Likewise, the DTI engages in a nationwide campaign against uncertified items in the market, including the enforcement of DTI technical regulations mandating compliance with Philippine Standard Certification Mark Schemes, particularly Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 02, Series of 2007.

To protect consumers or potential buyers of electrical and electronic products; mechanical or building and construction materials; and chemical and other consumer products and systems, DTI–Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) covers products and systems by implementing Mandatory Product Certification Schemes: the Philippine Standard (PS) Quality and/or Safety Certification Mark Licensing Scheme and the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) Certification Scheme.

The DTI urges consumers to report violators of retailers, distributors, and manufacturers that sell uncertified items, through the Consumer Care Hotline at DTI (1-384) or ♦

Date of release: 25 July 2023