Vape maker seeks clarity over which prevails on e-cigarettes: Law or Duterte statement?
The Philippine unit of JUUL Labs has sought the help of the Department of Finance (DOF) amid the delayed importation of its pods in line with the implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ban on e-cigarettes.
In a letter to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, JUUL Philippines’ senior director for government affairs Mario Zinampan said the vape manufacturer supported the new law further increasing taxes on heated tobacco and vapes, or Republic Act No. 11467, signed by Duterte last January.
Under the law, salt nicotine vapor products such as JUUL’s must pay P37 per milliliter (mL) since Jan. 1, 2020; P42 per mL in 2021; P47 in 2022; P52 in 2023; and increments of 5 percent annually beginning 2024.
Prior to RA 11467, liquid electronic cigarettes were taxed P10 per 10 mL.
JUUL had also committed to no longer sell its vaping products to those aged below 21 ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline mandated by RA 11467, as well as stop the sale of flavored pods under the same law.
The DOF, however, quoted JUUL as saying the company was suffering from delays in the importation of its products because of “the President’s pronouncement on the ban on e-cigarettes.”
The DOF said Zinampan sought help to let JUUL proceed with its importation as another law, Republic Act No. 11346 that took effect last Jan. 1, “legitimizes vapor products in the Philippines.”
RA 11346 signed by Duterte in 2019 was the earlier ta measure mandating higher cigarette and e-cigarette prices which carried tax rates that the DOF deemed “too low.”
RA 11467 was the result of the DOF’s push for even higher taxes on e-cigarettes and alcoholic drinks.
The DOF said JUUL also requested for a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III “to clarify the issue.”
“I think they should write the Executive Secretary for clarification,” Dominguez said in a Viber message on Monday (Feb. 3).
According to company representatives, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) took Duterte’s pronouncement as edict and has been barring the entry of JUUL pods.
This resulted in a shortage of JUUL pods nationwide.
Duterte in November 2019 issued a verbal ban on e-cigarettes, which the BOC, a DOF-attached agency, implemented that same month.
Edited by TSB