The Department of Trade and Industry - Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB) seized 923 units of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, and novel tobacco products worth Php 255,940.00 during its focused enforcement operation in Valenzuela City, on 04 May 2023.Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo and DTI-FTEB Director Atty. Fhillip D. Sawali led the inspection of vape products being sold by seven (7) vape stores in Valenzuela City.
Valenzuela City Mayor Weslie T. Gatchalian is also present in the said activity, expressing his full support for DTI’s enforcement efforts.
Three (3) non-conforming shops were issued a Notice of Violation (NOV), and they were required to submit a written explanation within 48 hours from receipt of the NOV.
The common violations of non-compliant vape establishments are the failure to post the minimum age requirement, the absence of point-of-sale signage, and the sale of vapor products that are appealing to minors, such as those with fruit, candy, and dessert flavors; and/or packaging that features cartoon characters, and the sale and promotion of the said products within one hundred(100) meters from any point of perimeter of a school, playground, or other facility frequented by minors.
During the course of the DTI’s operations, the City Government of Valenzuela conducted an inspection, and two (2) the monitored vape stores were issued with a closure order for operating without a business permit.
USec. Atty. Castelo emphasized that the significant result of the enforcement operation in Valenzuela and the accomplishment of the campaign against violators of R.A. No. 11900 and its IRR in the National Capital Region (NCR), reflect the dedication and commitment of the DTI to protecting consumers and ensuring that products prohibited in
RA11900 are not sold in blatant contravention of the law.
“The DTI enforcement teams regularly conduct steadfast surveillance monitoring and enforcement operations in all cities of the National Capital Region (NCR) to ensure that appropriate actions are being taken against violators of R.A. No. 11900 and its IRR, and that prohibited vape products being sold are seized to safeguard consumers, especially minors,” said USec. Atty. Castelo.
Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Mayor Gatchalian, the former Deputy Speaker of the 18th Congress and co-sponsor of the vape law commits to the City Government’s obligation of regulating vape shops.
“Valenzuela City stands with the DTI in protecting consumer rights and welfare. We appreciate their efforts in implementing RA 11900, and rest assured that this local government unit is also doing its best to ensure that vape shops are operating with business permits and other documentary requirements,” Mayor Gatchalian underscored.
With DTI-FTEB as the CPG’s implementing arm, Director Atty. Sawali welcomes and commends the support of other government agencies such as the City Government of Valenzuela in enforcing RA 11900 and its IRR, and upholding consumer protection and welfare.
As of 02 May 2023, the enforcement teams have already monitored and visited 427 physical vape stores. Consequent to surveillance, the enforcement teams conducted physical validation where 139 firms were found to be compliant, while 171 firms were issued with Show Cause Orders (SCO) and Notices of Violation (NOV), mandating non-compliant firms to submit a written explanation within 48 hours from their receipt of SCOs and NOVs. The 117 monitored stores, however, were either closed or no longer selling vape products.
Alongside its enforcement operations among physical stores, the DTI-FTEB Online Monitoring Unit (OMU) has also intensified its monitoring initiatives, resulting in 17,828 monitored online vape stores. Of these, 93 online stores were found to be compliant, while 17,735 were non-compliant.
Out of the non-compliant online stores, only 98 have valid addresses and have been subjected to validation and physical inspection. During the physical inspection, 32 NOVs were issued while the rest were either closed or cannot be located.
Recognizing the challenge of regulating vape products in online platforms, 30 SCOs were issued to different online platforms notifying that there are online merchants selling or offering for sale vape products that do not conform with RA 11900 and its IRR. They were given 48 hours from receipt thereof to submit a written explanation.
The OMU is monitoring seven (7) major online platforms and 14 company websites daily.
Through the combined efforts of the on-the-ground and online enforcement teams, there are already 57 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.
RA 11900 lapsed into law on July 25, 2022. The IRR was issued on 05 December 2022, published in Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon on 13 December 2022, and took effect on 28 December 2022, 15 days after publication. The law vests the regulatory jurisdiction over vapes and other novel tobacco products to 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).
On top of confiscated vape products, the nationwide campaign of DTI against uncertified items in the market is highlighted by the intensified enforcement of products under technical regulations mandating compliance with Philippine Standard Certification Mark Schemes, particularly Department Administrative Order No. 02, Series of 2007.
The DTI-FTEB has already monitored 1,078 firms, from January to April 2023, resulting in the sealing of 22,286 units of uncertified consumer products worth Php10,553,762.80.
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) covered products and systems through 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 email@example.com.