A GROUP representing tobacco companies in the Philippines called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to fully implement provisions of the Vape Law that specifically targets the proliferation of illicit vaporized nicotine products.

The Philippine Tobacco Industry (PTI) issued the call in a letter sent recently to BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr.

In its letter, the PTI emphasized that the full implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11900 "will ensure that the public is protected against the dangers of using illicit products as well as the collection of appropriate taxes aimed at helping our economy."

RA 11900, otherwise known as the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, became a law on July 25, 2022. It regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

The PTI said the rampant illicit trade of vape products online pushed them to support the law's full implementation

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The group particularly asked the BIR to fully implement Rules IV, V, VI, XI and XIII of the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

Rule IV said that graphic and textual health warnings and relevant fiscal markings must be put on the unit packaging of novel tobacco products, heated tobacco product consumables and vape products. Only products bearing the required GHW may be sold to the public.

Under the IRR, e-commerce platforms, e-marketplaces and other similar online platforms are mandated to allow only Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and BIR-registered distributors, merchants or retailers of vape products, devices and novel tobacco products to sell on their website or platform.

To ensure vape products are made inaccessible to minors, the IRR also provides that vapor product refill receptacles be tamper- and child-resistant. Products packaged or labeled with flavor descriptors appealing to minors are also prohibited.

On the other hand, Section 2 of Rule VXII declares all requirements under the Vape Law effective immediately, except those provisions covering product standards and registration.

"We are also hoping that the BIR will closely work with enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police, The Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as relevant anti-illicit trade groups from the Bureau of Customs to make sure the law and its IRR are effectively implemented," the PTI said.

The PTI is a non-stock, non-profit association whose members include Japan Tobacco International Philippines, Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation and PMFTC Inc., among others.