Juul seeks clarification on e-cigarette importation

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Juul Labs Philippines has sought the assistance of the Department of Finance (DOF) in clarifying President Duterte’s ban on the importation of electronic cigarettes, noting that the passage of new sin tax laws should have legitimized these products in the country.

Quoting a letter sent to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the DOF said Juul Philippines senior director for government affairs Mario Zinampan had appealed for assistance in allowing the company to proceed with its importations.

The DOF said the e-cigarette manufacturer encountered delays in the importation of its products as a result of Duterte’s ban on e-cigarettes, which was announced in November last year.

According to the DOF, Juul claimed that the importation should be allowed again as the passage of Republic Act 11346 back in July 2019 had already legitimized vapor products in the Philippines.

The company was requesting to meet with Dominguez to clarify the matter.

Sought for his response, the finance chief said Juul Philippines should instead seek the help of the Executive Secretary to clear up the importation policy.

“I think they should write the Executive Secretary for clarification,” he said in a text message to reporters.

Duterte in July last year signed RA 11346, which increased taxes on tobacco products and introduced a tax on e-cigarettes.

However, the President, four months later, ordered a ban on electronic cigarettes and tobacco alternatives, after the Philippines confirmed its first case of vape-related illness.

Two weeks ago, he signed RA 11467, which yet again increased the taxes on alcoholic beverages and e-cigarette devices, such as vapes and heated tobacco products.

The law raised the specific tax rate for salt nicotine-based vapor products to P37 per milliliter effective Jan. 1. This will be hiked further to P42 per milliliter by 2021, P47 by 2022, and P52 by 2023, with a five-percent increase every year afterwards.

Following the new law’s passage, Juul said it was taking immediate steps to comply with the provisions of the law, ahead of the deadline of Feb. 7.

The company said it would no longer make mango, creme and mint-flavored pods available for purchase at any of its kiosks nationwide nor its local website. The company will also stop fulfilling retail orders for these flavors from any of its retail partners.

Furthermore, Juul will ensure that its Virginia tobacco flavored products will not be sold to anyone under the age of 21.

The cigarette manufacturer also committed to pay the correct taxes, as stipulated under the new law.



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