Tobacco Ads Still Widespread Despite Ban

Nearly two months after a sub-decree banning tobacco advertisements came into force, cigarette advertising remains widespread especially in small-format banners, observers said yesterday. 

“We haven’t counted the number of companies [still advertising], but from what we saw on the street, in the restaurants, they’re everywhere,” said Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health.

The group presented its findings yesterday at a conference held at Phnom Penh’s National Institute of Public Health. According to the movement for health, at least six billboards in Phnom Penh, six in Siem Reap province and two in Battambang city continue to feature cigarette advertisements, while countless numbers of small format ads-such as those posted on the front of vendor cigarette stands or on umbrellas-remain in place.

“In general it’s much better,” Mr Kong said by phone. “The government has done something for enforcement, but they need to enforce more to fully comply with the sub-decree.”

Kong Kan, chief administrator at Huotraco Ltd, which owns the popular Alain Delon and Fine brands, said the company had been working to comply with the ministry’s edict but admitted pulling the smaller advertisements had proven difficult.

“My company has respected the sub-decree by 90 percent. All that is remaining are only the small boards that the company provided to retailers and vendors. There are too many and we could not finish them on time,” he said, adding that a coalition of cigarette companies wrote to the ministry in August asking for an extension to remove the small-form advertisements but had not received a response.

Battambang city governor Uy Ry said that he was not aware that any billboards remained advertising tobacco in the province, but he would investigate the matter.

“If there are billboards left, it is illegal,” he said.

Khun Sokrin, director of the National Center of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health, said he could not comment on enforcement measures taken by the ministry and referred questions to Secretary of State Heng Taykry who declined to comment.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 9,650 people in Cambodia die from tobacco-related causes each year.

(Additional reporting by Abby Seiff)

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