Health advocacy groups called on the government to speed up the adoption of a law on alcohol regulation yesterday, given their extensive research which found worrying links between the consumption of alcohol and citizens’ health, traffic accidents, domestic violence and family financial problems.
Dong Il Ahn, a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia, said that a draft law currently before the National Assembly was necessary to stem the tide of rising alcohol consumption and alcoholism.
“In the draft law, it will take action to monitor brewery companies before giving licenses to them, impose age limits, take action aimed at reducing drinking habits, make the purchase and sale of alcohol difficult, stop its advertisement on social media and increase taxes,” he said.
According to research by the Cambodian Movement for Health and the WHO, average annual deaths caused by driving under the influence have risen to 381.
This does not include the long term effects of continuous alcohol consumption.
“More than one person per day dies from traffic accidents under the influence of alcohol,” said Mom Kong, executive director of Cambodian Movement for Health, at the launch of the ‘Booklet of Youth Versus Alcohol’.
From next month, the police will enforce new traffic laws on speeding, driving without license plates and driving under the influence of alcohol across the Kingdom due to the alarming rate of road deaths, which have risen to six fatalities and 16 injuries a day.
“We will conduct alcohol tests in key neighborhoods with bars, restaurants and nightclubs around 11-12 pm. The reason we will do that is because when people go home after a night out eating and drinking they might be drunk and try to drive,” said Run Roathveasna, director of Public Order at the Interior Ministry.
Mr. Kong added that while Cambodia had been partially successful in reducing transmitted diseases like HIV/Aids, non-transmitted diseases such as diabetes, chronic illnesses and cancers haveincreased, partly due to the country’s alcohol consumption.
The research also showed that the rise of alcoholism correlates to the rise of domestic violence across the country.
In July, the minister of health confirmed that the draft law was finalized on July 8 and is now in the hands of the National Assembly.
Mom Kong, executive director of Movement for Health, said:
“Alcohol problems are becoming an important topic among 96 percent of Cambodian people according to the research results of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and they requested the Royal Government of Cambodia to take action to regulate alcohol production.”
Noting the frequency of deadly domestic violence cases, Bo Samnang, director of the National Cultural and Moral Center, told Khmer Times that in addition to health problems, alcohol also leads to the decline of social morality. He expressed his regret at the government seeking income from alcohol but turning a blind eye to its negative effects.
“The government should completely stop advertising alcohol on social media,” he said. “It’s sad that the government seeks income from alcohol when the consequences of consuming alcohol outweigh this.”