Press Release: CAMBODIA MOVEMENT FOR HEALTH
Phnom Penh, 20 July 2012: Starting 1st Aug 2021 onwards, all cigarette packs sold in Cambodia shall have new pictorial health warnings as determined by the Ministry of Health (MoH). According to the Prakas of the MoH, pictorial health warning (PHW) on cigarette packs must be changed every two years. Following this Prakas, the MoH informed all tobacco companies by sending them the new set of PHW in December 2020, giving them a period of nine months, till 1st Aug 2021, to implement.
Strengthening the implementation of PHW on cigarette packs regularly encourages smokers to quit smoking and prevents women, youth and children from stating smoking. Quitting smoking contributes to the government efforts in fighting COVID-19 pandemic since smoking is a high risk of COVID-19 infection and smokers are more vulnerable to the virus compared to non-smokers.
Several studies show that PHW on cigarette packs is a very effective educational measure for smokers to quit. A 2018 study in Thailand on the effectiveness of 85% graphic health warning on cigarette packs on smoking behaviors of Thai teenagers showed large PHW is effective for both smokers and non-smokers, large PHW significantly increased the fear element and intention not to start smoking among non-smokers, and intention to quit among smokers (Sirichotiratana, Sujirarat, et al, 2018).
Similarly, an evaluation of effectiveness of PHW on tobacco product packaging by the Australia Department of Health showed that cigarette packs with pictorial health warning, and no brandings, is effective in raising awareness on health harm, increased concerns around health, and contributed towards intention to quit (Essence, 2018).
The effectiveness of the PHW will eventually decrease due to familiarity with the same images over a long time. Therefore, the MoH requires the PHW to be changed every two years. Delaying the change reduces the commitment from smokers to quit.
Tobacco is a deadly product because half of its users fall ill, face disability and die prematurely. In Cambodia, about 15,000 people die due to tobacco related diseases annually and USD 649 million is lost due to tobacco consumption (WHO FCTC Investment Case for Cambodia, 2019).
Sirichotiratana, N., Sujirarat, D., Sompopcharoen, M., Viwatwongkasem, C., Satitvipawee, P., Auemaneekul, N., Silpasuwan, P. (2018). Effectiveness of 85% graphic health warning on cigarette packs on smoking behaviours of Thai teenagers. Tobacco Induced Diseases, 16(1), 761. https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/83827
Essence Communication. (August, 2018). Evaluation of effectiveness of graphic health warnings on tobacco product packaging. An Evaluation Report. Retrieved from https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/evaluation-of-effectiveness-of-graphic-health-warnings-on-tobacco-product-packaging.pdf
RTI International, United Nations Development Programme, WHO FCTC Secretariat, and World Health Organization. (July 2019). WHO FCTC Investment Case for Cambodia. Retrieved from https://www.kh.undp.org/content/cambodia/en/home/library/democratic_governance/investment-case-for-tobacco-control-in-cambodia0.html