Cambodia has not responded to the UN call to ratify an international treaty aimed at severely curtailing tobacco consumption and advertising worldwide, a World Health Organization officer said Wednesday.
If ratified by the 40 nations that have so far signed on, the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control will require adherents to raise tobacco taxes, print warnings on tobacco packaging, ban advertising and promotion for tobacco products and ban smoking in public places, a UN statement said.
Greg Hallen, technical officer for tobacco control at the agency’s Cambodia office, said the Ministry of Health has not issued a statement on the convention treaty. He said, though, he expected Cambodia to ratify it, since the government’s interministerial committee approved the convention before it was sent to the Health Ministry.
In recent years, Hallen said, Cambodia has made progress toward curbing smoking. Even several years ago, he said, distributing cigarettes was routine at business meetings. He commended Phnom Penh International Airport for being largely smoke-free.
Still he said there was a “long way to go” before public smoking bans gain acceptance in Cambodia. One incentive for enforcing its rules would be increased government revenue from tobacco taxes.
Hallen said signing the treaty was a way for Cambodia to show its progress as a forward-looking nation, like Thailand, which has made “world-leading progress” in reducing tobacco use.
In a letter, John Nelson, general manager of British American Tobacco Cambodia, said his company is already in compliance with several convention requirements, including placing warning labels on packages and ending television advertisements and billboards.
Since its June 16 inception, the treaty has been signed by 40 nations. Only Norway has ratified it, however, Hallen said.
According to the UN statement, almost 60 percent of Cambodian men smoke, one of the highest rates in the world.