On June 7, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expressed strong support for the fight against the illegal sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products in the country, particularly in the focus on combating illegal business practices on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada (Lazada) and Shopee (Shrimp.com), according to Philippine news media website inquirer.
Philippine Medical Association “confused”
The DTI’s concern was raised by a letter from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) to the government, in which the PMA asked the government to take action against the alleged illegal sale of cigarettes and e-cigarettes on the Internet.
The PMA stated:
“We are perplexed that such non-compliant, unregistered and untaxed tobacco and e-cigarette products can be openly advertised, sold and distributed in the local market.”
The PMA also copied the letter to Philippine Senator PiaCayetano (D-CA) and several other government agencies for their assistance.
DTI stressed that they are in “continuous dialogue” with these well-known e-commerce platforms to strictly screen and regulate online sellers.
The department also stressed that they maintain close coordination with agencies such as the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Tax Authority to enforce the Philippine Aerosolized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulatory Act.
DTI regularly issues notices of violation and orders to stop selling, targeting both online and offline sellers who violate the law.
E-commerce platforms operating in violation of the law
DTI made clear that representatives of the e-commerce platforms initially expressed “the utmost willingness to cooperate” in meetings with DTI’s Consumer Protection Unit, and that Shopee had removed more than one million illegally operated e-cigarette items from its website one day after meeting with DTI.
The DTI reported that Shopee and Lazada are still listing non-compliant e-cigarette products that do not carry the Philippine health warning graphic and are being sold at below retail prices to date.
In its appeal, the PMA expressed concern over such sales practices, saying they circumvent regulatory oversight and thus endanger the public’s well-being. It said raising the issue of illegal sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products and enforcing tax and regulatory policies are critical to protecting government interests and the health of the Filipino people.
The association specified that:
“Since these products do not have internal tax stamps and do not have required packaging or labeling requirements, we cannot verify that they are registered and have paid the correct taxes.”