The Council of Ministers yesterday approved a sub-decree prohibiting smoking or tobacco usage in public places and put in place fines for offending individuals and businesses.
The sub-decree, which comes 11 months after the law on tobacco control was passed by the National Assembly, bans the consumption of tobacco products at the workplace and public areas, such as restaurants, hotels and public transport.
Individuals found violating this ban will face a fine of 20,000 riel ($5), whereas establishments will have to cough up 50,000 riel ($12.50) if they fail to put up no smoking signs or are caught providing customers with ashtrays.
Dr Yel Daravuth, who helped draft the tobacco law and is a technical officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cambodia, said the ban specifically applies to enclosed places that can be accessed by the public and that smokers could continue to puff on their cigarettes on the streets.
The government, he said, will release another directive soon detailing the implementation of the ban, which would include health inspectors conducting random checks to ensure compliance.
He added that the onus would be on the owners of these establishments to inform their customers of the smoking ban, failing which they would be fined.
“You cannot expect all the health inspectors to go everywhere,” Daravuth said. “[The owners] have to co-operate with all the partners to enforce this.”
According to the latest WHO statistics, there are close to 2 million tobacco users in Cambodia, of which 1.5 million smoke cigarettes while the rest use chewing tobacco.
Ray Rany, head of tobacco and health office at the National Centre for Health Promotion, said the ministry will draft a prakas listing places the ban is applicable and will include schools and parks as well.
Howric Ghotbi, co-owner of popular night club Pontoon, yesterday welcomed the new directive and said it was only a matter of adjustment to get patrons to smoke outside the premises.
“Most foreigners are used to this when they go out in other countries,” he said. “So they will go out [to smoke] and then go back in.”