Alcohol abuse is on the upswing nationwide, with 45 percent of young Cambodians drinking several times a week, a government survey has revealed.
The survey, conducted last year by the ministries of Education and Health among 500 high school students, shows that drinking alcohol is “a serious problem for Cambodians,” said Dy Vanly, an official at the municipality’s General Department of Higher Education.
Dy Vanly said one reason Cambodians are drinking more is because of an increase in advertising here by foreign companies that sell beer, wine and liquor. Many Cambodians are not aware that alcohol can cause health problems, he said.
Foreigners clearly know the dangers of abusing alcohol, a fact which has prompted alcohol companies to make up for lost profits by exporting products to developing countries populated by poorly educated people, he said.
“Alcohol is invading strongly in Cambodia,” Dy Vanly said. “The strong advertisement of any type of alcohol causes Cambodians using it to experience weakened knowledge.”
Those at risk in Cambodia, according to the survey, “want to have fun a few times a week, so they are comfortable falling into drinking alcohol because the price of alcohol is not expensive, even poor people can do it,” he said.
According to health reports from various countries, the number of alcohol-related deaths is far higher than non-alcohol related deaths, Dy Vanly said. Alcohol use may cause liver disease, stomach ulcers, cancer and heart attacks, he said.
It is also a major cause of domestic violence, he said. “It is better if people use the money used to buy alcohol to pay for their students’ school fees.”
Department officials spoke to students at Phnom Penh’s Sisowath High School about alcohol abuse on Tuesday.
Trong Seripiseth, a 16 -year-old student, said he was surprised to discover the harmful effects of alcohol.
“I call for the government to protest against the importation of any alcohol to Cambodia,” he said.