Phnom Penh: Last 4 June 2014, a workshop was organized to updated information on tobacco control activities in Cambodia and the implementation of the WHO FCTC particularly article 6 with relevant stakeholders including decision maker and policy maker from 20 government ministries, 20 universities, NGOs and media in (70 participants). The Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) hosted this, under technical and financial support from SEATCA and WHO-Cambodia.
More importantly, the workshop was organized to echo the World No Tobacco Theme-2014 “Raise Taxes, Save Lives” too. Dr. Dong Il An, WHO Country Office Representative congratulated the Cambodian Government for raising excise rates on tobacco from 10% to 15% which will take into its effect on 1st July 2014. He also encouraged the Royal Government of Cambodia to regularly increase tobacco taxes to increase the government tax revenues while on the other hand to decrease tobacco consumptions, deaths and diseases from tobacco related diseases.
In her opening remarks, H.E Mrs. Gnuorn Sokha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance mentioned that the Ministry has its strong commitment to participate in development, implementation and enforcement of effective tobacco control regulations especially through taxes measures. A Tobacco Tax Working Group had been established and has been working on conducting various studies on the feasibility of tobacco tax increase to reflex the Win Win strategy as stated by WHO.
Ms. Bungon Ritthipakdee, Director of SEATCA, revealed the tobacco industry’s arguments against effective tobacco tax policy where they claimed tobacco tax policy will harm the poor, government’s tax revenues and employment. From the truths behind tobacco industry tactics to dilute, delay and interfere tobacco tax policy shown by Ms. Bungon, she strongly recommended that effective implementation of the FCTC article 5.3 is the only one most effective measure to prevent and protect tobacco tax policy from tobacco industry’s interference. (P. Yeou, SITT Cambodia)