THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) has seized almost P3 million worth of uncertified vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco items in the National Capital Region as part of its enforcement operations.
In a statement on Monday, the DTI said it seized 9,695 units of the uncertified items worth P2.99 million after the agency’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) visited 390 physical stores from Feb. 9 to 26.
“Prior to physical inspection, the DTI has conducted surveillance operations. With this, 121 firms were found compliant, while 106 stores were either closed or no longer selling vape products. However, violations were seen among 163 firms, and they were required to submit a written explanation,” the DTI said.
The DTI added that the FTEB’s online monitoring unit reported 16,290 non-compliant online vape stores while only 86 online stores were deemed compliant following its monitoring efforts.
“Through these combined efforts, there are already 56 formal charges filed against violators of Republic Act (RA) No. 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). A case has also been filed against one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the country,” the DTI said.
Under RA 11900 and its implementing rules and regulations, the sale or distribution of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products to or by persons under eighteen years of age is illegal.
According to the DTI, the routine inspections are part of Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual’s directive to tighten monitoring over the violations of firms and shops under RA 11900.
Meanwhile, the DTI said in a separate statement that it is “closely monitoring” the prices and availability of refined sugar.
Last year, the government sought the assistance of various supermarkets to lower sugar prices following supply issues.
“I have already instructed our monitoring teams, led by Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo to regularly conduct price monitoring of sugar in selected supermarkets,” Mr. Pascual said.
“We continuously work with other government agencies, especially the Department of Agriculture, to temper the impacts of inflation toward Filipino consumers and enable them to have access to affordable basic necessities and prime commodities,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave