Press Releases

Salceda wants BIR licenses, product specifications of e-cig brand FLAVA checked; Gov’t could slap P7.3 billion in fines if brand proven to be evading excise taxes

November 28th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has instructed the Bureau of Internal Revenue to verify the licenses and product specifications of e-cigarette brand FLAVA, following today’s hearing on some 1.4 million stocks of 10 mL cartridges with lacking documentation, which were apprehended by the Bureau of Customs and suspected of not having paid the correct excise taxes.

“I requested the BIR to write today the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Product Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry to validate the product specifications of the FLAVA,” Salceda said.

FLAVA is suspected of mislabelling its products as conventional freebase e-cigarettes, when there are reports that suggest it is of the salt nicotine variety. Freebase cigarettes are taxed at P60 per 10 mL, while salt nicotine, which is more concentrated, is taxed at P52 per mL.

“Under Section 263 of the NIRC, illicit trade in excisable products is subject to a penalty of not less than ten times the value of the excise tax evaded. The stocks discovered are about 1.4 million cartridges containing 10 mL of electronic cigarette juice,” Salceda said.

“The product is declared as freebase, which should be taxed at P60 per mL, but there are reports which suggest that the products themselves may be misdeclared and that they should, in fact, be taxed as nicotine salt, the more highly concentrated product, which is taxed at P52 per mL,” Salceda added.

Salceda also pointed out that FLAVA’s own marketing “reveals hints that it is, in fact, salt nicotine.”

“For a 10mL equivalent, the most dominant nicotine salt product in the market can provide 2800 puffs. FLAVA markets itself to provide 6000 to 10,000 puffs. So, by this alone, you could imagine that the product is concentrated,” Salceda said.

“This could thus be a case of P728 million in evaded taxes. If you multiply that by 10, this ends up being a P7.3 billion case,” Salceda added.

Salceda also requested that the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue come up with strategies to curb illicit trade in electronic cigarettes.

“The point of this hearing is not to prosecute just one company but to look at ways by which we can prevent illicit trade in electronic cigarettes, which will kill legitimate companies while allowing unregulated dangerous substances in the market.”

Salceda also wants the BIR to check FLAVA’s licenses posted on its online store.

The hearing was conducted to discuss House Resolution No. 1437, entitled “A RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE APPROPRIATE COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY ON THE REPORTED INSPECTION OF A WAREHOUSE IN VALENZUELA CITY WHICH LED TO THE DISCOVERY OF P1.428 BILLION WORTH OF ALLEGEDLY ILLEGAL ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES BEARING THE MARK “FLAVA”, WITH THE END IN VIEW OF ABATING THE PROLIFERATION OF ILLICIT TRADE BY INTRODUCING REMEDIAL LEGISLATION AS MAY BE NECESSARY,” authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez

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