21 March 2021
Niem Chheng, The Phnom Phen Post:
The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) has instructed all relevant ministries and institutions to take immediate action to stop the use and commercialisation of heated tobacco products (HTPs) – devices that heat actual tobacco to release its nicotine content – and Electronic Delivery of Nicotine Systems (EDNS), which are popularly known as vaporisers or vapes and utilise liquids containing nicotine.
They said their institution had received information that there were many people still using these products and secretly doing business selling them in Cambodia.
According to the directive dated March 18, the NACD has received information that some Cambodians, especially young people, have continued to use EDNS as well as new HTPs.
They said the use of these products would encourage criminals to import the products illegally while Cambodia has its resources focused on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and is still recovering from the flooding in 2020.
According to the NACD, Cambodia has issued guidelines and taken measures to prevent the use, exploitation and importation of cigars and EDNS since February 2014, but the guidelines do not include all of the new HTPs available on the market.
The NACD requests that all ministries, institutions and drug control committees in Phnom Penh and the provinces take immediate action to stop the usage and commercialisation of these products and to confiscate them whenever they are encountered as long as those seizures do not affect legal business operations.
The directive states: “All forms of trafficking, trading and importation of HTPs must be stopped and information on import restrictions must be diseminated to all vendors and the public.”
The NACD requests that all relevant institutions strictly follow these guidelines and report the results of their implementation to the NACD for a summary report to the government.
The NACD announcement, citing a World Health Organisation finding, said the use of cigars, EDNS and HTPs can lead to serious lung disease and even death.
The announcement further said that using these products is also a motivating factor for people to use other illegal drugs.
NACD secretary-general Meas Virith declined to comment, saying the meaning of the directive was already clear.
Deputy National Police chief Mak Chito said that in the past the authorities had confiscated many of these products. He said that although some other countries consider the use of these products legal, Cambodia does not allow it.
“The NACD has issued a directive to make the public aware of [these products’] negative [health] impacts such as on the lungs and the nervous system.
“In Cambodia, there are also bad people who are cheating by using methamphetamines or marijuana [with these devices],” he said.