Cambodian Ministry of Health praised for commitment to implement pictorial health warnings

Bangkok, 26 January 2017: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) applauds Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng for standing strong against non-compliance of tobacco companies to the Sub-decree on Pictorial Health Warnings (PHWs) legislated in 2015.

“We fully support the warning issued on 23 January by the Minister of Health to the tobacco industry to comply with the Sub-Decree requiring a 55% PHWs on cigarette packs. There is no excuse for tobacco companies not to print the PHW on tobacco packages as they were already given nine months to prepare the new packs and dispose of the old ones prior to the July 2016 deadline. Fifteen months have now passed but many non-compliant cigarette packs are still seen and sold in Cambodia. This shows the complete disregard of the law by tobacco companies and their shameless contempt for government authority,” said Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, SEATCA’s Executive Director.

In Thailand, tobacco companies were able to meet the 3-month deadline given to them to comply with the PHW regulation. Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam all gave the tobacco industry 4 to 7 months to comply, which is more than enough time.

“In Cambodia, companies that fail to comply with the law will face a fine of US$1,000. This is an insignificant price for rich transnational tobacco companies, and does not deter them from committing more violations,” she added.

More than 10,000 Cambodians die of preventable tobacco-caused diseases every year, and more than two million Cambodian adults smoke. PHWs are desperately needed to educate the consumers and the public on the health harms of tobacco use. They are also easily understood and will help motivate quit attempts and discourage Cambodia’s vulnerable groups especially the poor and the youth from smoking initiation.

“Large pictorial health warnings combined with raising tobacco taxes, smoke-free public places, comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising and promotion are critical to protect public health that will reap enormous dividends in socio-economic development and prosperity,” remarked Ritthiphakdee.

Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Officer – SEATCA
Email: | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##

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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance working to promote health and save lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.