THE draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act (Vape Law) will impose age and identity verification requirements on customers ordering such products online.

According to a draft of the IRR posted on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) website, e-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and e-retailers are required to implement an “access restriction mechanism” for the products that is approved by the DTI.

The draft also requires online sellers to deliver directly only to the buyer or an authorized representative, who must be at least 18 years old, as verified via a government-issued ID.

“Sellers may redeliver the product at the expense of the buyer in case the authorized representative is not of legal age,” according to the draft.

“It shall not be a defense for the e-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and e-retailers selling or distributing that the buyer self-declared his/her age or that she did not know or was not aware of the real age of the purchaser. Neither shall it be a defense that he or she did not know nor had any reason to believe that the product was for the consumption of a person below 18 years of age with both the buyer and the representative showing proof of age,” it added.

The rules seek to ensure that minors have no access to vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, their delivery devices, and novel tobacco products.

The Vape Law lapsed into law on July 25. The version that passed Congress allows purchasers to be 18, down from 21 in previous drafts.

The draft IRR also requires online sellers to register their business name with the DTI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Cooperative Development Authority.

The draft also bans the sale of vaping products via telephone or text message.

“The seller should refer buyers to visit onsite or online stores for proper age verification,” according to the draft.

The draft will be subject to virtual public consultation on Oct. 27-28, the DTI said.

The draft will be implemented as a joint administrative order, as yet unnumbered, to be issued by the DTI, Department of Health (DoH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

According to the draft, the DoH has the authority to enforce Republic Act No. 10643 or the Graphic Health Warning Law, while the FDA oversees the registration of products containing tobacco, and exercises authority over products making therapeutic, medicinal, or reduced risk claims, except in cases of deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales practices.

The draft empowers the BIR to register industry participants for taxes, while the DTI monitors compliance with product selling rules.

Various groups have opposed the law’s passage, alleging that vaping products pose a health risk to young people.

The DTI contends that the risk can be mitigated via product testing.

The Federation of Philippine Industries said that the law will protect consumers from counterfeit products. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave