Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI), the country’s leading consumer advocacy group, has urged for the implementation of strict government restrictions on the sale of heated tobacco products (HTPs), which it alleged have been proliferating in the country without authority from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba called out the government as he cited the proliferation of various HTP brands in the country despite the absence of the Implementing Rules and Regulations on Republic Act 11467 signed on January 22, 2020.
“The FDA has not authorized or registered any HTPs since there is no signed IRR,” said LKI.
LKI alleged that “IQOS stores are taking advantage of the transitory period of eighteen months from the effectivity of the IRR. That is why Laban Konsyumer is urging strict government restrictions for HTPS in this pandemic.”
Last week, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. Inc., an affiliate of Philip Morris International, announced the opening of the first four IQOS stores in the Philippines.
According to Dimagiba, LKI research showed that HTPs are sold between P250 to P300 for a pack of 20s heatstick and around P6,000 to P9,000 for the device, with regards to the substitution for cigarettes.
He said the FDA needs 18 months to implement the law. “That is why we are calling for the push of the IRR issuance as soon as possible,” he said.
LKI explained that based on the law, the FDA shall periodically determine and regulate, consistent with evolving medical and scientific studies, the manufacture, importation sale and packaging and advertising, and distribution of heated tobacco products, including banning the sale to nonsmokers or persons below 21 years old.
Selling heated tobacco products to persons below 21 years old shall be prohibited and shall be punished with a fine of P10,000 pesos and imprisonment of thirty days.
Manufacturers and distributors, importers and sellers of heated tobacco products are given a period of 18 months from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations of the law to comply with the requirements under such IRR.
“We are alarmed seeing the news of the launching of IQOS stores in the Philippines, and thus we are calling them out government on this to protect the Filipino consumer,” said Dimagiba.
“The government must be firmer and stricter when implementing these safeguards, especially during the time of pandemic when many of us are still enduring multiple hardships brought about by the lockdown and the ongoing quarantine status of the country,” he concluded.