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About-face on ad ban

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A billboard advertising alcohol in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district yesterday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday did an about-face from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema’s earlier blanket ban on outdoor advertising for wine and spirits, saying they can now be advertised – with a warning.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the second Chroy Changvar bridge, Hun Sen announced that advertisements for wine and alcohol will now permitted on billboards and television if it was displayed with the warning: “When drunk, don’t drive. Drive, don’t drink”.

The warning requirement would apply to all alcohol advertisements, including beer, Hun Sen said.

“I want to find the middle sol-ution for companies that put up billboards for advertising wine or beer, so they have to say ‘If driving, don’t drink alcohol’ or say ‘When drunk, don’t drive,’” the premier said, adding that television ads would also have to comply.

On September 21, Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema, banned the advertising of wine and spirits in a bid to curb road casualties. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s announcement yesterday will apply nationwide, not just in the capital.

“We put the warning words on alcohol, as we did on the cigarette package; so use will reduce some, but we cannot stop advertising, because the other countries also advertise the wine production,” Hun Sen said.

“Even if there is no advertising, people will still drink. But they are not too drunk to see the advertisement of the alcohol on television or billboards.”

San Chey, a representative of Affiliated Network for Soc-ial Accountability Cambodia, yesterday said the move represents a step backward in terms of reducing alcohol use.

“I think that his recommendation can affect and also keep traffic accidents [from alcohol use] increasing,” San Chey said. “No one can deny the prime minister’s words, but what we have to do is think about the effect ourselves.”

Sor Phanna, director of the administrative office at Phnom Penh City Hall, said yesterday that he could not comment on this announcement because he had not received the information yet.

Phnom Penh Municipal Traffic Police Chief Heng Chantheary said police had an ongoing campaign to reduce traffic accidents related to alcohol consumption and conducted breath-testing in eight districts of Phnom Penh every day.

“We don’t stop our work of reducing traffic accidents, even when we see that traffic accidents are keeping down,” Heng Chantheary.
The Prime Minister always paid attention to the safety of his people, he said.

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