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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Graphic warnings on cigarette packs ready to be implemented

Graphic warnings on cigarette packs ready to be implemented

090602_04b.jpg
090602_04b.jpg

A decree making it necessary for cigarette companies to display photographic health

warning on packets awaits final approval

GRAPHIC health warnings about the dangers of cigarettes will soon be obligatory on every cigarette pack sold in Cambodia to ensure that the Kingdom meets its obligations under a World Health Organisation treaty, government officials and local NGOs said Monday.

Lim Thai Pheang, director of the National Centre for Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health, said an official decree was ready to be implemented, but needed to be officially approved by the minister of health.

"The decree will decide on how the warnings will be placed on cigarette boxes, how much of the box the warning will take, where on the box the warning will go and what photos and words should be used," he said, adding that he did not know when the decree would be finished.

The graphic warnings will inform consumers that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, lung swelling, stroke, heart disease and tooth decay, the Ministry of Health said.

Placing warnings on cigarette boxes is required under the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Cambodia signed in November  2005.

"The health warnings on cigarette boxes are of great importance to remind smokers of all the different kinds of diseases that can be caused by smoking," said Mom Kong, executive director of local NGO the Cambodian Movement for Health.

WHO recommendations

The WHO said that the warning should follow four recommendations in order to be effective in deterring smoking.

First, the warnings should show suffering, great pain or other ill-effects of smoking.

Second, the warnings should be placed at the front or the back of cigarette boxes and not on the "unimportant" sides' and third, the warnings should cover about 50 percent of the front or back of the box.

Finally, the warnings must be "active", meaning they should be updated at least every three years.

In the past, Dr Yel Daravuth, the national officer for the WHO tobacco initiative, has applauded the government for its commitment to the treaty, even though Cambodia missed the deadline for implementation earlier this year.

According to a 2004 Tobacco survey by the National Institute of Statistics at the Ministry of Planning, 54 percent of Cambodian men 20 years and older smoke, compared with 6 percent of women 20 years and over.

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