The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) seized some 13,784 vape products worth P4.25 million from non-compliant stores across the National Capital Region (NCR).
In a statement on issued on Thursday, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual reported that as of June 1, 2023, DTI’s monitoring teams monitored 29,167 firms, of which 583 are physical stores and 28,584 are online stores.
Out of the 583 physical stores monitored, 229 were found compliant to the prohibitions and regulations established by Republic Act No. 11900 or the “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulations Act.” Meanwhile, 214 were found to be allegedly non-compliant.
As for the 28,584 online stores monitored, DTI said only 175 were found to be compliant after “physical validation,” while 28,409 were allegedly non-compliant. The DTI said 26,986 online stores are still undergoing physical validation.
As a result of the monitoring, the DTI-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV)/Show Cause Order (SCO) to 72 firms. The DTI said it has confiscated 13,784 products from non-compliant stores with a retail value of P4,252,523.
According to DTI, majority of the firms that have received an SOC/NOV have the following violations: Rule IV-Requirements on product packaging; Rule V- Sale of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, their devices, or novel tobacco products; Rule VI- Restrictions on product communication, advertisements, and sponsorships; and Rule VIII-Prohibition on the use of nicotine and non-nicotine products in public places.
Meanwhile, as of June 1, DTI said the Adjudication Division of FTEB has already received 74 formal charges, with 73 filed against physical stores and one against an online store.
The trade department said it conducts monitoring across major social media and e-commerce platforms to ensure that minors will not have access to these substances online.
Last June 5, the DTI said Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual issued a letter addressed to two big e-commerce platforms, which the agency did not name.
The DTI said Pascual ordered these platforms to send an “official explanation” to the DTI concerning recent cases of “deceptive, unfair, fraudulent, and unconscionable online sales practices.”
“We received a report regarding scammers and sellers of defective, fake, and pirated products in e-commerce platforms. I have already issued a letter addressed to two big e-commerce platforms for them to remove unregistered and unlicensed online merchants. Following numerous notifications, they were given 72 hours to explain,” Pascual said.
The trade chief said the DTI is currently undertaking “appropriate” measures to intensify its campaign against these fraudulent sales practices.
“I assure Filipino consumers that we are here to promote and protect their welfare and make sure that these sellers will be made accountable. As we promote the use of e-commerce platforms, we want to make sure that these spaces will be safe for consumers,” Pascual said.
The DTI said the report it received indicated that several consumers lodged complaints against various online sellers of fake, defective, or undelivered parcels, which the DTI said it is currently acting upon.
Image credits: Ivan Soima | Dreamstime.com