The Department of Finance is proposing to ban the unauthorized sale of liquor, cigarettes and other “sin” products in the electronic marketplace to ensure that these vice-inducing goods are no longer accessible to minors.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the statement after finding out that digital commerce platforms such as Lazada are selling popular alcohol products and cigarette brands, with some of them being offered at big discounts.
The only way to monitor whether such online transactions are not being offered to minors is a click box warning that the buyer should be “at least 18 years old to enter” the seller’s page.
The Department of Health and Food and Drugs Administration said their support for this DOF initiative is likewise “consistent with our effort towards a comprehensive prohibition of all forms of advertising, promotions and sponsorships by the alcohol and tobacco industries.”
They said the government “must exercise its duty to protect the health of the people, especially of teenagers who can potentially use online platforms to freely access these products and pick up the habit of smoking and/or alcohol drinking in the long term.”
Consumer safeguards such as seller registration, product quality, and safety mechanisms to validate recipients of “sin” products are essential to preventing minors from purchasing these online, the DOH and FDA said.
“Expanding this regulatory purview to cover the online selling of these ‘sin’ products is a progressive step in protecting the health of Filipinos,” they added.
Excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, have substantially increased since President Duterte signed two “sin” tax reform measures into law.