DOF’s Dominguez: Customs to allow entry of imported e-cigarettes
MANILA, Philippines — With the new law slapping higher excise tax on e-cigarettes in place, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will come out with guidelines allowing the entry of imports, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.
“The BOC issued a customs memorandum order (CMO) after President Duterte’s pronouncements, which by the way did not mention anything about imports. Then, the Food and Drug Administration issued a regulation saying that no importation is allowed without FDA approval. This FDA issuance is now under temporary restraining order (TRO),” Dominguez said Monday night.
Last November, President Duterte issued a verbal ban on electronic cigarette products, which the BOC, a Department of Finance (DOF)-attached agency, implemented that same month.
“Subsequently, President Duterte signed the alcohol and e-cigarettes act into law. Now, the BOC just has to issue a new CMO so importation can proceed and we can collect tax pursuant to the new law which took effect on Jan. 27. We are coordinating with the BOC on this,” Dominguez added, referring to Republic Act (RA) No. 11467.
The Philippine unit of JUUL Labs earlier sought the DOF’s help after the President’s ban on e-cigarettes led to a shortage of imported pods nationwide.
JUUL had pointed out that RA 11346 or the earlier sin tax law signed by President Duterte last year that jacked up taxes on cigarettes, heated tobacco and vapes already “legitimizes vapor products in the Philippines.”
With RA 11467 in place, it superseded the lower excise tax rates on e-cigarettes under RA 11346 effective Jan. 1 this year.
Last month, JUUL said it was no longer selling its vaping products to those aged below 21 ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline as well as stopped the sale of flavored pods, both mandated under RA 11467.
The new sin tax law slapped salt nicotine vapor products such as JUUL’s an excise rate of P37 per milliliter (mL) since Jan. 1, 2020.