City To Ban Tobacco Ads

Public cigarette advertisements will be removed from the municipality starting this week, municipal and Ministry of Health officials said Monday.

Last week, the ministry asked the city to remove billboards and other print ads for tobacco in a bid to comply with the World Health Organization Framework Conven­tion on Tobacco Control, said Ung Phirun, Ministry of Health secretary of state. Radio and television ads will not be affected.

“When the cigarette advertisements are removed, we can re­duce [the number of] smokers, too,” Ung Phirun said Monday.

The removal of billboards will begin Thursday, said municipal advertisement office director On Neang. According to a WHO statement last week, the Frame­work Con­vention on Tobacco Control aims to reduce tobacco-related deaths worldwide by setting guidelines on tobacco promotion.

Cambodia, however, has yet to sign the agreement, Ung Phirun said. Last year, the health and information ministries claimed they would end all cigarette advertisements in the media by the end of 2003. However, the political deadlock prevented that action, ministry officials said.

The loss of cigarette billboards could affect the city’s economy, warned Phnom Penh Media Co Ltd general manager Hang Sorya.

The city should gradually re­duce the ads instead of yanking them immediately, he said.

The government should in­crease taxes on tobacco to make up for lost revenue from advertising, WHO country representative Jim Tulloch said Monday.

Yel Daravuth, health and tobacco program manager for the Ad­ventist Development and Re­lief Agency, encouraged the government to take further steps. “I think only to remove [advertising for] cigarettes from the city is not enough. The government should ban all cigarette advertisement from the media and TV,” he said.

In response to the ban, advertising officials said they would change their strategies to keep their tobacco sales alive. “We will send our people to disseminate our products directly to the markets and the people,” said Khan Sarong, Viniton Group To­bacco Co Ltd administration di­rector.

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