The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it has intensified its campaign against illegal vape retailers both physical and online stores amid proliferation on the use and sale of prohibited vape products with the confiscation of P3.5 million worth of items and more stores facing investigation.
DTI Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo at the Laging Hand Public Briefing has warned manufacturers and retailers to comply with the Republic Act 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act to avoid penalty, or worst business closures.
“We have intensified our campaign nationwide including the provinces because we have Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) in all DTI offices so they won’t miss them. We have FTEB teams whose job is just to monitor vape retailers,” she said.
Manufactures and retailers alike face huge fines that could lead to closure of establishments. “So, if they want to continue with their business, just follow the law,” she appealed.
So far, the DTI already issued Notice of Violations to 21,708 online retailers online and 516 physical stores in Metro Manila alone. The volume of confiscated vape products from these stores was estimated to value P3.5 million since the agency started implementing the VAPE Law in December last year. Aside from confiscation, some stores already closed their operation.
“Comply with the law,” Castelo appealed as she explained that it is not good for the economy if there are several stores closing operation because of violation of the law as this would have adverse impact, especially on jobs.
“The DTI, we are not happy if there are many violations because we don’t want these stores to close and lose business,” he said. She noted that if retailers with capitalization of P300,000 to P500,000, but are facing penalty of P2 million, they cannot sustain the operation and have no other option but to fold up and lose business.
She explained that the intent of the VAPE law is to help those already smoking because these are “cessation devices” and to save the youth from adapting the habit of smoking. Thus, she said, the law is very clear against the sale of vape products that would make them attractive to the youth like the use of attractive packaging and product descriptors, and tempting flavored vape items, that would attract the curious minors.
Minors face a penalty of P10,000 while the retailer or stores face penalty and other fines. For those selling within 100 meters from school perimeter face a penalty of P100,000 for the first offense and those with no health warning face a fine starting at P2 million.
Aside from the fines, minors also face jail time and they would be placed under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Castelo also said that DTI has not discussed about potential total ban of the vape products because it is also industry and a legitimate one if they follow the law.
Aside from intensifying its campaign, the DTI also partnered with other government agencies – Department of Transportation, Department of Education, and Department of Public Works and Highways -- for their advocacy materials to be placed in public places.
DTI also continues with their Consumer Care seminar to educate minors and prevent them from starting to use vape.