The Ministry of Information has issued a letter to all media company owners to postpone the airing of alcohol advertisements during Visak Bochea Day in May and Meak Bochea Day in February.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said in the letter issued on Tuesday that both holidays are religious, and therefore all broadcasts of alcoholic advertisements should be suspended.
“To promote Buddhism as the national religion, which most Cambodians adhere to, […] all media owners must please suspend the broadcast of alcoholic advertisements during Visak Bochea Day and Meak Bochea Day,” Mr Kanharith said.
Additionally, he said in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts to inform producers of alcoholic products to implement warning labels on their goods, such as “don’t drink and drive”, in order to remind consumers to drink responsibly.
The letters followed an April 25 Supreme Consultative Council meeting with the Information Ministry to review the effects of alcohol advertising.
Industry and Handicrafts Ministry spokesman Um Sotha yesterday said he has yet to see the letter, but noted the ministry will wait for decisions to be made by its leaders.
“Maybe the letter was submitted to the Minister of Industry, so we will have to wait for him to check the letter before we can respond to their request,” Mr Sotha said.
He noted that a warning label on alcoholic goods will serve as a reminder for consumers not to drive while intoxicated.
“I think that if we put up this warning message, it will remind alcohol drinkers when they make purchases,” Mr Sotha said. “It can remind them not to drink too much, or refrain from drinking. I think it is good to have the message.”
Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodian Movement for Health, yesterday lauded the Information Ministry’s efforts in attempting to educate citizens on the negative effects of alcohol.
However, Mr Kong said that in order to reduce the serious risks posed by consumption of alcohol, the government must introduce additional restrictive measures on the sale and advertisement of alcoholic products.
“A single measure is not effective enough to reduce alcohol consumption, so relevant ministries should have measures as a package – such as ban or restrict alcoholic product advertisements,” he said. “Advertisement is one of the main reasons why many citizens consume alcohol and begin drinking at a young age.”