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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No lighting up in public places: by law

No lighting up in public places: by law

I T must have pained Second Prime Minister Hun Sen to do so - being a moderate to

heavy smoker himself - but on 28 Aug he signed a decree that will... gasp, ban

smoking in public places.

Not only that, but smokers' favorite non-Khmer

brands - $1-a-packet Marlboros and 555s etc. - are about to undergo a price

hike.

This is to ensure local Khmer brands are (much) cheaper, and

presumably therefore more enjoyable to smoke.

The uncomfortable new fact

for smokers came in Cabinet Ministry memo No. 1852, signed by vice-minister Nov

Kanoun on Aug 16.

"We have to make a very strict decision," he

said.

The government plans to do even more than merely insist people do

not light up in "mass public places" - "we will fine someone who is against the

regulations," Kanoun said.

First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh,

a non-smoker, signed the decree four days after it was written. Hun Sen - with

maybe a wistful look at his ashtray - took another week to

sign.

Undersecretary of state for health, Man Bun Heng, said the ministry

had not yet informed everyone of the decision.

The first places were the

ban will be enforced will be the Ministry of Health buildings themselves, and

hospitals, he said.

He was not sure when the ban would be extended to all

public places. Schools would also be asked to teach children about the dangers

of smoking, he said.

The Cabinet decree also called for:

  • Health warnings to be aired following every cigarette advertisement that

    appears on television and radio. This has worried local stations, who already

    complain advertising revenue is difficult to come by. Kanoun's memo acknowledges

    that TV and radio stations are hard up but, citing Singapore as an example, he

    says the tobacco warning has to be "very strict". Televisions or radio stations

    also fear that the government might ban cigarette advertisements in the

    future.

  • Foreign cigarettes imported (illegally) into Cambodia must be taxed "very

    high," Kanoun said. High taxes on those cigarettes will ultimately benefit local

    cigarette producers and laborers.

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