Smoking Ban to Go into Effect

Ven Rathavong and Taing Vida / Khmer Time No Comments Share:
A Phnom Penh resident smoking at a cafe in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Cabinet on Friday approved a sub-decree that would impose a $5 fine on people who smoke in offices and public places, as part of a government effort to improve public health and cut Cambodia’s rates of second-hand smoke, the highest in the region.
Along with the $5 fine for individual smokers, the new sub-decree would impose a $12.50 fine on the owners of restaurants who fail to put up no smoking signs. Dr. Yel Daravuth, a national officer for the World Trade Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said that “inspection groups” will join local authorities in fining smokers who violate the new sub-decree.
Though the sub-decree has been approved, it will not be until September that any fines are collected, said Dr. Daravuth. In the meantime, working groups from the Ministry of Health will work on educating smokers about the health risks of cigarettes.
He added that the new sub-decree – which implements a law passed early last year – aims to make people more aware of the serious health risks of tobacco. “Without the order, I think smokers would not be aware about the dangers it could cause to second-hand smokers,” he said.
A Planning Ministry report said that second-hand smoke affects 60 percent of Cambodians, according to government spokesman Phay Siphan, the highest rate of any country in ASEAN. People are most likely to inhale cigarette smoke in restaurants and cafes, the study found, putting them at risk of smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer.
Mr. Siphan said that the new order has broad citizen support. “About 80 percent of citizens support the government measure to ban smoking cigarettes at restaurants, public transportation, and workplaces,” he said.

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