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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anti-smoking stand brings laurels for Cyclo Center

Anti-smoking stand brings laurels for Cyclo Center

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Cyclo driver Korng Sinuch, center, surrounded by jubilant colleagues, proudly holds the certificate of appreciation presented with the World Health Organization Smoke-Free award to the Phnom Penh Cyclo Center in recognition of the work the center has done since 1999 towards promoting tobacco-free living. The center supports about 2000 drivers, 90 percent of whom smoked in 2001. This has now dropped by 50 percent as a result of the center's campaign. Cyclo drivers who smoke spend an average of 13 percent of their income on tobacco.

A

s promotion of tobacco smoking enjoys what health authorities are calling a "boom"

in Cambodia, the Phnom Penh Cyclo Center has been recognized for its efforts to promote

smoke-free living.

WHO gave its first-ever regional community project award to the center on June 9.

The center has been supporting cyclo drivers to live healthier lifestyles since 1999

and in April it ran a Smoke-Free Cyclo Rally from Siem Reap to the capital.

Greg Hallen, WHO's technical officer for tobacco control, said the center's Smoke-Free

Cyclo Project was an outstanding example of a community-based project focused on

breaking the cycle of tobacco use and poverty.

The center's smoking awareness project was established in conjunction with the National

Center for Health Promotion (NCHP) of the Ministry of Health and promotes smoke-free

lives, provides counselling, cessation support, and incentives to own a smoke-free

cyclo.

WHO said in a media statement that the multi-national tobacco industry had extended

its marketing to developing countries to make profits from poor people; it predicted

70 percent of deaths related to tobacco smoking would occur in developing countries

in the future.

A 1999 survey by the National Institute of Statistics found that 59 percent of Cambodian

men over 20 years were smoking and seven percent of women. The poorest people in

Phnom Penh spent an average of 7.4 percent of their income on tobacco.

NCHP said cyclo drivers who smoke spend an average of 13 percent of their income

on tobacco.

WHO said 123 countries had signed and 18 countries had ratified the Framework Convention

on Tobacco Control which aims to reduce deaths and disease caused by the global expansion

of the tobacco industry.

Cambodia had signed the convention on May 25, 2003, but ratification by the National

Assembly was delayed due to the current political deadlock.

Hallen said that countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos

had banned tobacco advertising, but not Cambodia.

Lim Thaipheang, director of NCHP, said the deadlock had prevented the adoption of

many laws, including the draft law to control tobacco which would allow the Ministry

of Health to increase tobacco import taxes and control advertising. He said that

currently cigarette advertising and promotion was enjoying a boom and there was no

law to regulate it.

More than 200 brands of cigarette are imported into Cambodia and there are 17 factories

manufacturing smoking products.

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