Authorities raided and shuttered a cigarette manufacturing company in Tbong Khmum province on Tuesday after discovering it had not complied with a sub-decree requiring warning labels to be included on tobacco products.
The Interior Ministry, together with court and local officials, shut down production and seized more than 1,600 cigarette packs missing health labels.
Hak Siek Lim, Tbong Khmum Provincial Court spokesman, said that operations at the factory were ceased, adding that until CTK is able to fulfil its obligation, operations will not be allowed to resume.
“We ordered the company to cease their operations until they are ready to follow regulations by labelling their products,” he said. “They will need to send a request to relevant authorities in order to resume operations.”
According to a provincial department of information report, warning labels serve as a deterrent and are required in accordance with a sub-decree issued by the government.
Due to the violation of the sub-decree, officials confiscated a total of 1,591 packs of cigarettes and 44 large packs from the cigarette manufacturer in Tbong Khmum district.
Dr Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, which advocated for the health warnings on cigarette packs, said that a company like CTK is opportunistic and takes advantage of a poorly enforced sub-decree.
“Our observations on the sub-decree requiring health warnings on cigarette packs have shown that the compliance rate is over 60 percent,” he said. “Most companies don’t only sell domestically but also overseas and most of them comply.
“But when it comes to companies mostly selling to the domestic market, those tobacco companies are more reluctant to warn the public about the dangers of smoking.”
According to a National Centre for Health Promotion report published last year, there were 1.68 million cigarette smokers in Cambodia.
About $200 million is spent on cigarettes each year, while about $163 million is spent on treating tobacco-linked diseases.
In June last year, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said tobacco use was an obstacle to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, since it harmed public health, the economy and the environment.
“The Health Ministry wants to introduce a ban on smoking at work and in public places, prohibit tobacco advertising, and stop sponsorship and promotions by tobacco manufacturers,” he said.
Mr Bunheng added that officials also wanted to strengthen warnings and images printed on tobacco products and expand public health campaigns discouraging smoking.