Lazada and Shopee urged to take down illicit nicotine products
Vape groups urged Lazada to follow Shopee’s lead and immediately take down all illicit vape products displayed and sold on its online platform.
Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) President Joey Dulay said that Lazada, as one of the most popular online marketplaces in the country, has a responsibility to their consumers to safeguard their welfare by ensuring that they are protected from the dangers brought on by unregistered, substandard products.
“The DTI has made it irrevocably clear that it is incumbent on Lazada to comply with the mandate of the Vape Law, it’s implementing rules and regulations, and Joint Administrative Order No. 22-11. Shopee, a platform of similar scale and widespread popularity, has already taken down over a million unregistered vape listings on its site. The issue should merit similar urgency from Lazada,” Dulay said.
The Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP), who wrote separate letters to Shopee and Lazada in January of this year, commended Shopee’s swift and decisive action against illicit vape products and strongly encouraged Lazada to follow its rival’s lead.
“These platforms wield enormous power over the buying public. If they see it on the site, then they assume it’s safe for use. Lazada plays such a crucial role in deterring the consumption of these illicit products. There are now laws in place to regulate vaporized nicotine products, but these cannot be properly implemented if the platforms themselves fail to comply,” said NCUP President Anton Israel in his letter.
This comes after the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the Consumer Protection Group (CPG) met with various e-commerce platform representatives last March 1 to address the proliferation of prohibited vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products being advertised and sold online despite ongoing monitoring and enforcement efforts.
Lazada officials were present during the dialogue, along with officials from Shopee, Facebook/Meta, Grab Express, and Carousell, among others.
A day after the DTI dialogue, Shopee reported the removal of more than 1 million prohibited vape listings from its platform. It also promised to strengthen its monitoring of illicit vape products and pledged its continued cooperation with the trade agency.
RA 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act became law on July 25, 2002. The law covers vapor products, refills, vapor product devices, heated tobacco products, HTP consumables and devices, and novel tobacco products.
With the effectivity of the IRR on December 28, 2022, all prohibited items under RA 11900 should no longer be found in the retail market, whether online or offline.
For product registration, only BPS-registered and certified vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, their devices, and novel tobacco products with the applicable graphic and textual health warnings shall be sold to the general public by June 2024.
JAO 22-01 also knowns as the Guidelines for Online Businesses Reiterating the Laws and Regulations Applicable to Online Businesses and Consumers makes e-commerce platforms liable in the same manner as individual sellers for the sale of fake products.
PECIA is the largest e-cigarette trade industry organization in the Philippines, with more than 200 store owners, suppliers, and manufacturers as members and 8,000 allied vapers, representing over 1 Million consumers of smoke-free products in the Philippines.
NCUP is a nonprofit national advocacy organization that believes that the rights and interests of millions of Filipino smokers and vapers alike need to be protected and safeguarded from substandard, unregulated, and non-registered tobacco/nicotine products and alternative nicotine products.
Source: Manila Bulletin
The so-called Vape Bill was enacted into law. The measure aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vapor and heated tobacco products.
Importantly the bill focuses on imposing age restrictions over 18 years, ensuring that adult smokers can access non-combustible alternatives to smoking.
Liza Katsiashvili, community manager at World Vapers’ Alliance, said:
“While most policymakers are misinformed and fight against vaping, the Philippines followed the right path to embrace vaping as an effective harm reduction innovation to save lives. Other countries should follow this example and endorse smart vaping policies to ensure improved public health for millions of consumers globally.”
The act, introduced by Senator Ralph G. Recto, indicates that the priority of the State is to adopt the harm reduction strategy, focused on smoking cessation for adult consumers. This statement is a massive victory for the vaping community in the Philippines.
Every year smoking kills nearly 100 thousand smokers in the Philippines. The progressive public health policy focusing on safer nicotine consumption is a chance to decrease illness and mortality rates, thus improving the life quality of thousands of individuals living in the Philippines.
Several local vaping associations have been campaigning in support of the Vape Bill. Among them are WVA partners from the Nicotine Consumption Union of the Philippines (NCUP). Anton Israel, the founder of the NCUP, said:
“Vapers in the Philippines are celebrating a huge victory! We believe that the vape bill is a healthcare strategy that promotes a consumer choice and an opportunity for smokers to enjoy safer alternatives to combustible tobacco. The decision of the government to encourage vaping instead of discouraging it will bring huge public health benefits for the country.”
World Vapers’ Alliance stands with the decision of the Philippines senate to embrace life-saving innovation and ensure access to less harmful nicotine delivery products for consumers, thus creating an opportunity to drastically improve public health over the years and save thousands of lives.
Source: Journal Online
Consumer and harm reduction advocacy groups, representing 16 million Filipino smokers and a million vapers, lauded Congress for the passage of the Vaporized Nicotine Products Bill, which is seen to help save the lives of millions of Filipino smokers.
The groups also launched the successful viral campaign, “We Vape, We Vote!” as they appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Vape Bill into law and protect their right to freedom of choice.
Vapers PH, Vaper Ako, Smoke-Free Conversation PH, Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines, Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association, Quit For Good, Heated Equipment as Alternative to Traditional Smoking Philippines, PROVAPE, Philippine Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates Inc. and Consumer Choice Philippines, said in a letter to the President that, “with the growing positive scientific evidence coupled with our life-changing experiences, our resolve is stronger that vaping saves lives.”
“We earnestly hope you would consider our humble plea Mr. President and sign the Vape Bill into law,” the groups said.
Advocating the rights of Filipino vapers and smokers “and all our families, relatives and friends who stand to benefit from the passage of the Vape Bill,” the groups said, “the lives of 16 million Filipino smokers will be saved because legitimate alternative products will be allowed to be sold to smokers who want to stop smoking.”
Intended to help adult smokers quit cigarettes, the bill has strong measures intended to protect minors from accessing and consuming the device.
“We support the reasonable and science-based regulations mandated by the Vape Bill to ensure that adult smokers stop smoking using a safer alternative. Contrary to the fake news being spread by some sectors, the Vape Bill contains many provisions meant to protect the youth so they will not have access to these products,” the groups said in the letter.
The Vape Bill bans the sale to and use by minors of vape products, and the sale, advertising, and promotion of vape products within 100 meters of the school perimeter and playground. Use of flavor descriptors that unduly appeal to minors in vape products and the display of vape products immediately next to products of particular interest to minors are prohibited. Persons who violate these provisions will be penalized with a fine or imprisonment.
The groups said that by passing the Vape Bill, the Philippines would join the growing list of progressive countries that believe in providing less harmful alternatives to their smoker population who don’t want to stop smoking.
“Our country will join the ranks of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Norway, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Egypt, and Uruguay, among many others that believe in providing smokers with alternative products to save their lives. The experience of these countries will show that allowing alternative products has led to a significant drop in smoking rates with no effect on drug use or alcoholism,” they said.
The groups said the Vape Bill would prevent the sale of unregulated and illegal products that do not pay excise taxes to the government. They said, it is not vaping per se that causes E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury but adding vitamin e-acetate in vapor products which will be addressed by the Vape Bill.
“Even the US CDC stated that smokers who have quit smoking and used vapor products should not go back to smoking and should switch completely to vaping,” they said.
Congress is expected to hold a bicameral conference committee this month to unify the Senate and the House of Representatives versions of the bill. The version approved by the committee will be sent to the President for his approval and signature.
Source: Manila Standard