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Still no warnings on some tobacco packs

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Images of sick babies are displayed on this packet of cigarettes. Supplied

Some tobacco producers who sell their products on the local market still refuse to place graphic images and health warnings on cigarette packaging despite a government decree on the matter coming into force several months ago.
Mom Kong, the executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), said yesterday the government, through the Health Ministry, has focused on the control of tobacco products by enacting laws and creating decrees. 
He said that although the decree to place warnings and graphic images on tobacco products came into force last July, there are still a number of tobacco companies that have refused to comply.
“The warnings on tobacco product packages are an important measure to educate citizens so they easily understand the dangers of tobacco products on their health,” Mr. Kong said. 
“It can also prevent children from smoking, however some companies have not put this message [on their products], which means our country has not fully informed its citizens yet.” 
Mr. Kong requested the Health Ministry to take disciplinary action against any tobacco company not adhering to the laws and decrees of the kingdom.
Ray Rany, the head of the Health Ministry’s tobacco and health office, admitted some tobacco companies had yet to comply with the decree, while others had from 20 to 90 percent implementation. 
She said the ministry had already issued two written warnings to companies not in compliance, adding that they will be fined the next time.
“Every day the ministry tells vendors and wholesalers to buy cigarettes with the warning message and images attached on the package.
“If there is none, please don’t buy them. Otherwise, they will be fined as well,” she added. 
Ms. Rany confirmed that according to the law, any tobacco firm that does not have any warning message or picture on its cigarette packaging will face a four million riel ($1,000) fine. 
Wholesalers or distributors who buy tobacco products not containing the warnings will be fined two million riel ($500), whereas vendors and retailers will be fined 10,000 riel ($2.50).
The warning image must take up 50 percent of the cigarette packaging while the message must take up five percent. Messages must be clearly written in Khmer and warnings must be printed at the top on both the front and back of the package.
According to a CMH report, about 10,000 Cambodians die annually from tobacco use.
The value of cigarettes in Cambodia each year is about $200 million, which could be compared with the construction of more than 40,000 wooden houses for the rural population. 
In 2013, Cambodia lost about $34 million over the treatment of five diseases related to tobacco use. 
The CMH hopes the government and relevant authorities will tighten the laws and regulations implemented under the Law on Tobacco Control to reduce the harm from  tobacco use on the Cambodian people.

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