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Council of Ministers mandates warning labels on cigarettes

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Posters depicting warnings about the dangers of smoking cigarettes are displayed at the National Centre for Health Promotion last month. Cambodia’s warning labels will be text-only, an official said.

THE Council of Ministers approved a sub-decree on Friday that will require health warnings to be printed on the outside of cigarette packages.

Under the presidency of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the council released a statement saying that the purpose of these warnings will be "to educate people, especially children and housewives, about the consequences of smoking, and to counter any deceiving advertisements from tobacco companies".

The sub-decree was created by the Ministry of Health in pursuance of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an agreement ratified by 166 countries including Cambodia.

Lim Thai Pheang, director of the National Centre for Health Promotion, said Friday that the Ministry of Health sub-decree had originally called for anti-smoking photos to be printed on packaging in addition to warning messages, but that the Council of Ministers requested that the warnings be text-only.

He added that he was not sure when the messages would begin being printed on packages, and that further discussions are necessary before the decree can be enacted.

"We must inform tobacco companies before we start to put health warning messages on cigarette packages," he said.

According to a 2004 survey by the National Institute of Statistics at the Ministry of Planning, 54 percent of male Cambodians over 20 years of age are smokers, compared with just 6 percent of women over 20, along with about 10 percent of Cambodians aged 10 to 14.

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