The Ministry of Information has issued a directive to media outlets, including TV, radio and newspapers, to cease running advertisements for alcohol lucky draws, which it says is contributing to a rise in youth drinking.
The lucky draws, often offered by beer companies, entice consumers by offering them the chance to win motorbikes, televisions, free beer and other prizes when they crack open a can or bottle.
In the letter dated August 21 and delivered to the Khmer Times yesterday, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said such promotions are leading to a rise in youth drinking, resulting in an increase in traffic accidents, violence, rapes and other bad activities.
“In order to avoid future problems, the ministry is again suggesting all media stop promoting the beer lucky draws,” Mr Kanharith said in the letter.
“Stop promoting beer lucky draws that are making residents, especially youth, addicted to drinking.”
The letter also says that media outlets can run lucky draws ads 15 days before or after significant public holidays, like the Khmer New Year and Water Festival, if given permission first.
It added that outlets that do not heed the directive will face action, but did not specify what the punishment would be.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said this was not the first time the ministry had issued the directive, which usually fell on deaf ears because no concrete action was taken against those that did not heed the advice.
“I want to see the Ministry of Information take serious action against these promotions, not just issue these empty directives,” he said.
“The directives are not effective. It is a big problem that our youth are addicted to drinking alcohol because of these promotions.”
The World Health Organisation attributed alcohol consumption to 2,000 deaths and injuries across the kingdom in 2015, amounting to $44 million worth of damages every year.