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Regulation looms for online cigarette sales

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ONLINE selling of so-called ‘sin’ products like cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, which the government relies on for tax revenue, will be subject to registration requirements to ensure only legitimate sellers get to use the platform, officials said.

In a statement Tuesday, the Department of Health (DoH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they support a proposal to ban unregistered sellers from participating in the online market for “sin” products.

The DoH and FDA said they will work with the Finance and Trade departments to create “a comprehensive regulatory framework” to govern online transactions.

“The Philippines has come a long way in safeguarding the public from the dangers of tobacco and alcohol consumption through its taxation policies and stringent regulatory measures. With wider and easier access to ‘sin’ products through technology, regulatory purview should be expanded to ensure that online selling is similarly covered,” they said.

DoH and FDA said that consumer safeguards require “registration, product quality, and safety mechanisms” that will validate that buyers of the “sin” products are over 18 years old.

“Expanding this regulatory purview to cover the online selling of these ‘sin’ products is a progressive step in protecting the health of Filipinos,” they said.

Early this month, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said his department will move to ban the online sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products by unregistered businesses.

In a Viber message Tuesday, Mr. Dominguez said that the DoF will also step up efforts to crack down on cigarette smuggling.

He said the higher excise taxes on tobacco products could increase illicit trade, which the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue are closely monitoring.

“They will intensify their efforts. In the meantime, although the current laws and penalties are sufficient, we will put a study group together to determine if new laws and regulations are required,” he added. — Beatrice M. Laforga





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