Phnom Penh’s City Hall warned tobacco companies at a meeting yesterday to stop flouting a sub-decree that prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising, or else face closure or fines.
The municipality said some companies were skirting the 2011 sub-decree by using more creative ways to sell their products.
While the companies did stop more visible forms of advertising on TV, radio and billboards, a municipal investigation revealed that companies such as Cambo, Cow Boy and Imperial still advertise using restaurants, female promoters, tuk-tuks and lucky draws, said Chan Sokun Thea, director of the Inter-Sector office of the Phnom Penh Municipality.
Mok Vansita, city deputy governor, said those who keep violating the sub-decree will be fined or ordered to close down.
“Our sub-decree was issued in 2011 by the government, but until now, the companies have not obeyed. They did stop advertising via TV, radio and billboards, but they kept using shops, girls, transportation and promotions to attract customers”, she said.
Nge Mean Heng, deputy head of the health department, said that the companies must now fully abide by the rules.
“It is no longer the time to just promote the sub-decree – it is time to implement it. The companies must follow the government’s sub-decree,” he said.
According to Dr. Yel Daravuth, a national officer for the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, the companies continued violating the order because “there’s no fine, so they kept doing it.”
Daravuth said an upcoming law to curb smoking in the Kingdom is under discussion at the ministerial level, and may pass as soon as 2015.
The law would prohibit all tobacco advertisements on a national scale, and ban smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants as well.
“I think this time it will be better – this time it’s not [just] a sub-decree, it’s a law,” said Daravuth.
The tobacco companies present at the meeting declined to comment.