Cigarette promoters will have to stop work when a tobacco advertisement ban takes effect in late August, a health official said yesterday.
A February sub-decree, which also bans advertising tobacco in the media and on billboards, states that the “promotion of tobacco products to customers by agents of tobacco companies shall be prohibited.”
Yel Daravuth, tobacco-free initiative project manager at the World Health Organization, said this clause meant that cigarette promoters would have to seek alternate jobs.
“This is a product that kills people,” Mr Daravuth said.
Smoking causes chronic diseases including lung cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular diseases. Still, about 43 percent of men and 17 percent of women smoke in Cambodia.
Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodian Movement for Health, said that after the ban takes effect Aug 24, employees of tobacco companies would no longer be able to promote products in beer gardens or cafes.
“They cannot go to restaurants or villages to encourage people to smoke,” Mr Kong said. “It is the government’s policy to protect people’s health.”
Som Chakriya, 24, a cigarette promoter with Heng Heng Import and Export and Distribution, said she had heard of the impending ban but was still not completely clear about the terms of the law. She said she might continue to sell cigarettes in some establishments after the August deadline. But even now, a number of establishments bar her from entering.
“Before, I could sell in most places, but right now, I can only sell in big restaurants,” Ms Chakriya said.
Though Mr Daravuth said billboards advertising cigarettes remain up in Phnom Penh, he said “we are looking for billboards to come down by late August.”
Tobacco companies and advertisers could face permanent closure if they fail to comply with the ban. Representatives at British American Tobacco and Heng Heng Import and Export and Distribution were not available to comment yesterday.