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Few tobacco companies use warning labels

MORE than a month after a new sub-decree made it mandatory for cigarette packages to feature health warning labels, health officials have found that few tobacco companies are complying with the regulation, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said yesterday.

Authorities approved a sub-decree last year making it mandatory for all cigarettes sold in the Kingdom to feature text warnings. The move was to apply to all manufacturers and importers and come into effect July 20. But based on observations in local markets, it appears that not all companies have complied, Mam Bunheng said.

“One company asked us to delay until October to comply with the labels,” said Mam Bunheng, who declined to name it or others authorities believe have not followed the sub-decree.

Kun Lim, head of corporate affairs for British American Tobacco Cambodia, said his company was in full compliance with the regulations.

“We have started printing the warning on our packs and our cartons from the 20th of July,” he said. He suggested it could be possible that retailers were selling off old stock before putting revamped packages up for sale. “It could take three or four months to exhaust the old stock,” he said.

Kun Lim said it could be a problem for the company if other firms are not complying with the regulation. “We would definitely be disadvantaged by that,” he said. “We hope that the government will do everything to ensure that everyone complies.”

Viniton Group’s human resource manager, Chum So-phea said her company started fixing health warning labels on tobacco products that it produces two months ago.

“We know the punishment,” she said. “If we do not use the labels, the ministry will fine us or shut down our business.”

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