Viniton guilty of violating law banning tobacco advertising, says Cambodian court

19 February, Bangkok – The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Viniton Group Company Ltd and its marketing executive guilty of violating the 2015 law on the control of tobacco products. Viniton was fined KHR 30 million (USD 7,356.55) and ordered to reimburse KHR 20 million (USD 4,904.36) to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The Cambodia MOH filed for a court hearing in July 2020 against Viniton for promoting tobacco using misleading terms describing taste and smell, such as fruit flavors, “soft aroma,” and “small seed,” on posters and flyers displayed in public places.

Despite three warnings by the MOH that these advertisements are misleading and illegal, promote tobacco use, and that the company must cease these promotions, the company persisted in its promotional activities.  According to the filings of the MOH, the company had malicious intent, and these acts affect security and social order.

Cambodia bans all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship except for corporate social activities. Tobacco advertising outdoors and at points of sale is prohibited. 

Viniton abided with the court decision (Judgment No. 2433 “Ch1” dated 08 August 2022) to pay the fine. Viniton has been operating in the country since 1993 and, while claiming to understand its obligations to respect relevant laws, still chose to break them. 

“We commend the Ministry of Health of Cambodia for holding the tobacco company accountable for breaking the law,” said Dr Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. “Tobacco companies break the law to test how serious the government is about enforcement. In this case, the diligence of the Cambodian enforcement unit did not allow Viniton to get away with its crime,” he added.

Viniton sells cigarette brands such as Angkor, Crown, and Luxury which are among the cheapest in the country. 

There are about 1.6 million smokers in Cambodia. Each year, about 15,000 Cambodians die from tobacco-related diseases. The total economic cost, including healthcare for treating tobacco-caused illnesses in Cambodia, is about KHR 2.7 trillion (USD 660 million) each year.  

“Tobacco kills. The tobacco industry needs to advertise and promote its products to attract new smokers, especially young persons. Governments need to send a strong message to tobacco companies that they are serious about law enforcement,” said Dorotheo.  

Contact information: 
Ms Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Manager, SEATCA 
Email: val@seatca.org
Mobile: +639173124600

About SEATCA

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control 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.

SEATCA In Touch

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for the latest news and updates on our work in the ASEAN region and beyond.